The myth of "safe" drunken driving

2 dead, 2 badly injured. 1 man fleeing the scene. A 3am crash on a bank holiday weekend marked out by a drinking festival masquerading itself as a music festival. And lots and lots of extraordinarily dumb people, including the dumbest public representatives in Ireland, coming out with bullshit such as a suggestion that a couple of drinks "help" "nervous" drivers according to one knuckle dragger in Tipp, who to be honest, should simply be passed to his nearest psychiatric unit, and left there until he can distinguish between reality and the fantasy world in which he lives.

We just cannot afford to pretend that there is no relationship between consuming alcohol late at night and horrific crashes that occur late at night and at weekends. It simply is no coincidence. We know this because in each and every other country - which by now means most of the civillised world, which parts of Cork especially seem unwilling to want to join, instead to remain in their fantasy world, a reduction in alcohol limits for drivers was accompanied by steady and permanent decreases in the level of road deaths as a result of increasing step ups in policing. Quite simply, most people value their right to drive over their right to go out and enjoy themselves. And it appears, that its only by twisting arms very hard, that the message gets through that it is simply unacceptable to expect to be able to go out and get ossified and then get behind a car wheel. Or even to drink at all.

All the evidence that exists everywhere has historically shown a strong link between increased policing, reduced limits and better road safety records. While there may be individual exceptions, there is powerful scientific evidence that driving disimproves with almost every amount of alcohol consumed, no matter how small. The converse therefore is, that driving will be better and road safety will improve if we can force people to leave the car at home when drinking.

Now the sad reality was put plain, especially for whose who tried to make out last week that it "doesn't happen here in Cork." Because it has, not only with horrific tragic consequences, but also with far too great frequency. Just like those who tried to make out that limiting the right to drive unaccompanied had no relationship to road deaths made before the horrific results of August 5th 2007, its quite likely that in a couple of years time we will be reading about more recent events and see a connection to drunken driving.

We simply cannot continue to pretend that having a higher than average tolerance for limits is doing anything other than creating an atmostphere of tolerance and even pity for those who break the law. We simply cannot pretend that lives will not be saved if these are tightened to the same levels as the rest of the world. And it really is high time that people in positions of influence stop burying their heads in the sand and get out of their own alcohol soaked lifestyles enough to realise that alcohol can and does create real harm in modern life and that we are entitled to, if not obliged to, create laws that as far as is humanly possible try to protect other people against the abuse of alcohol by others.

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