Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Drunk Driving

With great fanfare Mothers Against Drunk Driving has launched yet another nationwide campaign to drive drunks off the roads. MADD has been beating the safety drum since 1980 and has had fabulous success in reducing accidents and fatalities.

I say “has had” because frankly the war on drunk driving isn’t going so well these days. Actually, it’s bogged down.

Despite the sobriety checkpoints and public service campaigns that pop up around every holiday, the number of drinking-related fatalities is no longer going down. For the past decade, about 13,000 people, sometimes more, have died every year on the roads at the hands of drunks.

Now, MADD is looking for some high-tech help, asking that all first-time offenders be required to install breathalyzer locks on their cars. About 100,000 of these devices are already in use and they seem to work. (You can see more on this by clicking the video monitor on the left.)

The locks are simple. A driver blows into a tube and if the driver has a Blood Alcohol Level above the legal limit, his car won’t start.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone would be pro-drunk driver, but a number of critics of the proposal say it’s outrageous for “first-time” offenders to have their driving privileges curbed after making just one mistake.

To them, it seems heavy-handed – another government trampling of individual rights.

But, here’s something to remember. A “first-time offender” probably isn’t a first-time drunk driver. In fact, MADD’s research shows the average “first offender” drives under the influence 88 times before he’s ever pulled over.

And, here’s another thing to remember. 13,000 more people will die next year in alcohol-related crashes.

Common Idiocy