Abuse of alcohol costing lives on our roads
Bermuda has many things to be proud about, but an undercurrent of alcoholism throughout our community has taken a heavy toll, penetrating the core culture of our social environment.
Few families on the island have been untouched by the abuse of alcohol. While it is easy to point fingers at the suppliers of alcoholic beverages, it should be noted that trying to reduce this dangerous trend requires far more than words of warning, usually clearly displayed on the products.
When people are addicted to a point where nothing matters except the next drink, the problem is grave. Over the years, this legal substance has been used by many as a source of escape from reality. The reality is that things usually are made worse by this false perception.
Alcoholism is not openly discussed, probably because it can ignite highly sensitive emotions, too often kept in the shadows of community life.
The latest government steps to implement sobriety checkpoints to hopefully reduce drink driving, a cause of numerous accidents including fatalities, has been long overdue. However, it is a step in the right direction, although implementation could get complicated if the community fails to embrace the sobriety test objective, which is about saving lives.
The problem of alcoholism can run quite deep, especially when social drinking is so prominent. Making matters worse, is that apart from alcohol, there are illegal substances which also affect brain function, that enhance the problem of motorists taking to the roads without the ability to have proper control.
As if those negatives are not enough, an aggressive mindset by too many motorists is also making our roads dangerous.
The issue of driving or riding after consuming alcoholic beverages should never be taken lightly, simply because it happens so often. This problem will not be solved overnight because there will always be those who feel targeted after they come out of a bar or restaurant.
Police will not be concerned about the amount of alcohol consumed, but they have every right in the interest of public safety, to prevent people from taking to the roads while under the influence, placing others in danger.
In other words, what the public must understand, is that if one chooses to drink and drive, one should expect consequences. We have many drivers and riders who endeavour to comply with traffic rules, and that must be encouraged. But unfortunately, we also have motorists who behave as though they are above any rule or law.
Speeding and overtaking vehicles, even on corners, is a trait that continues at an alarming rate. That practice remains widespread, although police constantly warn the motoring public to refrain from this dangerous habit.
Every year, there are major crashes with serious injury, and often death, as a result of overtaking. Each incident affects more people than just those involved.
It is not a question of trying to get people to be perfect. It is a question of confronting a serious problem affecting community life and taking steps to change negative attitudes on our roads.
The issue of alcoholism has been around for a long time and, no matter what any government does, things will not be changing in a hurry. It is a problem that has touched every area of private and public life in Bermuda.
What most people are concerned about is that no matter what kind of sentence is issued in our courts to guilty offenders, there are those who are willing to take chances without a second thought. That is a serious matter for all motorists on our narrow roads.
There would be absolutely no need for sobriety tests if the motoring public complied with the no drink-and-drive policy. The issue is after consuming a considerable amount of alcohol, or making use of some other substance, there is little room left for reasonable judgment.
The public must be protected because no one is safe when someone gets behind the wheel or attempts to ride while under the influence of a mind-disturbing substance.
The sobriety tests are not aimed at shutting down social events where alcohol is being consumed. Hopefully what it should do is implant a more responsible attitude in refraining from taking to the roads in a condition that puts the community in danger. That is the overall objective.
Around the world there have been thousands of lives lost through drunk driving.
It would be a plus if we in Bermuda could lead the way in making a dramatic change in how we deal with the issue of alcoholism, especially when it comes to safety on our roads. Now is the time to act, not when we hear the screeching sirens racing to another incident.