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When motorists turn into dangerous weapons

Every year the police and road safety officials step up warnings about taking to the roads during the festive season, disregarding the safety of others, after engaging in social drinking at various events. The warnings are nothing new, in fact all year these warnings are issued via newspapers, radio, and television, and yet there are those who choose to either ignore the advice or simply take the risk, placing themselves and other others in danger.

When someone, after partying with a considerable amount of alcohol or any type of substance in their system which effects the brain, decides to operate a vehicle, the potential for an accident is extremely high because proper alertness for safety is diminished. This means those doing their utmost to obey safety rules while riding or driving are also in danger. Rocket science is out of the question, this is simple pure logic. Someone might feel on top of the world after a few drinks, but the reality is that when judgement is impaired, reacting to any situation becomes very difficult and sadly the outcome at times can be tragic.

In many countries the statistics involving innocent people who had their lives snuffed out because of an impaired driver is staggering. Here in Bermuda the toll over the years has resulted in all sorts of schemes aimed at sensitising the public to refrain from attempting to operate any type of vehicle after drinking. The message reaches some, but there are those who probably won't even see this column who live according to their own rules.

We all know accidents will happen since this is not a perfect world. However, there would be fewer accidents if more road users adhered to basic safety rules. We all know that is just not going to happen.

We may be reaching a stage where another hard look should be taken on penalties for operating a vehicle while impaired. Somehow it seems there is no real fear of being caught because there is no fear of losing their licence for a lengthy period. It is a situation that makes one wonder whether legislators are reluctant to impose stiffer penalties out of fear being caught themselves. Just a thought.

This subject should not be taken too lightly because, with the festive season upon us and people moving about the Island, unless this dangerous practice is stamped out soon there will be incidents leaving many people at a loss as to why the laws are not tightened to discourage those who recklessly ride or drive without concern for themselves or others.

The police do all they can to nab offenders before anything serious happens, but they cannot be everywhere at once. It is a responsibility of every motorists to respect the existing laws, and yes we know people like to enjoy themselves at various parties, but there is no need to leave a party only to create a nightmare of heartache for others. It will only take a little more thought to avoid unnecessary road mishaps directly connected to an impaired mind.

This is an international problem and many countries are trying to discourage the practice which has claimed so many lives including children. In Singapore penalties range from prison terms with potential fines up to $30,000 and the revoking of a person's driver's licence for an indefinite period. If a death is involved it is almost certain a prison sentenced will be imposed, and in some cases caning is understood to be still on the books.

It might seem harsh treatment for driving while impaired, but people there must think twice before taking a chance. Most Bermudians want a happy and safe holiday season and if this column causes one person to have a second thought before putting that key in the ignition after partying, it would have served its purpose.

Even one life saved is a step in the right direction.

File photo by Glenn Tucker Don't take the risk: A smashed car used as part of an anti-drink driving campaign by CADA in Bermuda in 2007.

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Published November 30, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm)

When motorists turn into dangerous weapons

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