When considering whether or not to drive after having a few drinks, some people misguidedly base the answer on their perceived chances of getting caught by the police. But really, losing a license and the resulting temporary inconvenience should be the least of the driver’s worries.
It’s disturbing when the possibility of punishments, like license suspensions and fines, are the number one deterrent, when these don’t even compare to the very real possibility of forever and tragically altering the lives of so many.
Driving a motor vehicle is, at the best of times, somewhat risky. As humans, we commit unintentional errors that we are sometimes not even aware of. To suggest we don’t is ridiculous. If we happen to be preoccupied with what we need to accomplish that day, or are running late for an appointment, we might take unnecessary risks when we drive, with our minds on the end result, rather than the care and consideration that needs to be taken on our way there.
But we all take a leap of faith and willingly assume these risks with the knowledge that we and others make mistakes.
What we don’t agree to is being at the mercy of a driver with a normal degree of error compounded by slower reaction time, substandard judgment, compromised hand-eye coordination, and a hindered ability to make quick decisions.
Athough drinking and driving is a year round concern, Christmastime makes these avoidable accidents especially tragic, particularly when there are children involved…which there almost always are. We all know that victims of impaired drivers are not only the people in the car because the tragedy spreads to so many other lives.
Impaired driving continues to become less socially acceptable, but we all have a way to go. Even though innocent bystanders are, to some degree helpless, there are things we all can do to help limit the consequences.
Start by learning more about the physiological effects of alcohol and, if you know somebody who takes unnecessary risks, share the information. Take a look at this brochure; I’m willing to bet you’ll learn something you didn’t know before. ttp://www.tc.gc.ca/roadsafety/tp/tp1535/pdf/tp1535e.pdf
If you are at a loss for what to say to a friend or family member when convincing them to stay off the road, suggest that that they imagine that each car they are going to pass carries their own kids, or nieces and nephews, or parents. You’ve heard it all before; whatever it takes, keep them off the road if there is any question about whether or not they should be there.
Don’t be afraid to call 911 if you suspect somebody is driving under the influence of alcohol, whether you know them or not. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, consider what could happen because of your inaction; what if you don’t do anything and that driver kills somebody and actions you took might have made a difference. And what if your family falls victim to a drunk driver, and a bystander could have changed that outcome…
The driver is also somebody’s mother or father, or daughter or son, and if it were a close relative of yours, you would likely hope somebody would intervene before he or she possibly makes the biggest, most irreversible mistake of his or her life.
I am not a non-drinker, and am not suggesting you become one. But this holiday season and always, encourage your friends and family to spend just a bit of time considering what could be, because you really never know…they might end up spending a lifetime thinking about what might have been.