Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Push for .02% drives the wrong message
There is a concerted push by some in Victoria to lower the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) of motor vehicle drivers from .05 to .02. Those on the side of reducing the threshold include high ranking Traffic Police as well as politicians and social welfare groups.
As a volunteer Emergency Service worker involved in Road Crash Rescue I am reasonably familiar with the damage that careless driving can do persons and property but I am not sure that this is the right approach, on two fronts.
First, the push to lower the limit has come of the back of some road crash statistics – 39 deaths in five years involving BAC levels of between .02 and .05% - which, in anybody’s language is too many, but Victoria consistently clocks up around 350 road deaths per year, so is that really a significant proportion? The figures also don’t reveal how many of the 39 deaths could be attributed TOTALLY to the BAC. Plenty of people with zero Blood Alcohol and plenty Blood Alcohol die due to speed, fatigue, inattentiveness, inexperience, risk taking and talking or texting on a phone, so will lowering the legal BAC change anything?
The second issue I have is that, yet again, we are ignoring the real problem. We don’t have a drink-driving problem, we have a dickhead problem. The many thousands of responsible drivers who enjoy one or two quiet ales after work, after sport, at many school and community functions and on countless other occasions will be penalised and demonised for the behaviour of a group whose concern for themselves and others will always come second to poor impulse control, strong negative peer group pressure and a general attitude of F@#K YOU MATE!!
Bring down the road toll, sure. Bring in harsher penalties for those who wish to roll the dice and lose, sure. Bring in even harsher penalties for those who don’t get the message the first, second or subsequent times, sure. But don’t change the playing field because some are cheating – make them follow OUR rules, instead.
The story is here.