Social Drinking and Driving

Top Sites Tuesday, the Blog Dumps meme that asks us to offer Two Thoughts on Tuesday is always an opportunity to examine two sides of an issue.  Over the weekend, I noticed and article in USAToday about government funding of research that could lead to the installation of mandatory blood alcohol testing in vehicles.  Over 10,000 lives were lost due to drunk driving in 2010.  The testing might initially involve use of an installed breathalyzer but could eventually measure blood alcohol from the driver’s touch on the steering wheel.   If blood alcohol is above a given level, the automobile will not start and, according to the article, researchers are “looking at whether technology exists” that could potentially shut a vehicle down or take some other action if a driver’s BAC rose above the legal limit while the vehicle was in motion.  Predictably, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) supports in-vehicle alcohol detectors while the American Beverage Institute (ABI) does not.  The ABI suggests that in order to deal with drug alcohol that rises after the car starts it will be necessary to set the blood alcohol threshold to .02 or .03, much below the legal limit of .08, effectively eliminating social drinking.  Hmmm.  10,000 lives vs. the end of social drinking.

My first reaction to the story was negative, and it wasn’t because I’m one of the social drinkers of the world.   It was because my Inner Curmudgeon tends to be a libertarian and is automatically suspicious of any sentence that includes the words mandatory and government.  Most politicians think they know what’s best for us while lacking the judgement to actually know or do anything about it.  While I’m not surprised that the beverage institute opposes such devices, I think they’re right … over-enthusiastic government regulators might insist on a lower blood alcohol threshold.  Why should responsible social drinkers pay for the excesses of drunks?   What’s next?  Speed is a major contributor to traffic deaths … are we going to put speed-regulators on our vehicles?  Over the weekend, a well-dressed man in an SUV made a four lane right shift right in front of me just to avoid missing an exit, almost causing a major accident.  Well-dressed or not, he was either stupid or crazy.  If we put a mandatory IQ threshold and psychological monitoring in our cars, would there be fewer traffic deaths?  Or would the roads be empty?  The technology exists to jam cell phone use in vehicles, a factor in many accidents.   Is that what we want?   Whoops.   It turns out that back in December, in a post titled Determinedly Dumb on another Top Sites Tuesday, I argued in favor of the use of cell phone jammers in vehicles.  Grumble, grumble, grumble, says my Inner Curmudgeon.  Curmudgeons don’t have to be consistent, they just have to be old and opinionated.

Me?  I’m torn (I don’t always listen to my curmudgeon).   Thought Number One: Over 10,000 lives were lost to drunk driving related accidents last year.  All I’ll need to do is blow into this little tube to start my car.  Is that such a big deal?  Who knows … I might not even be around by the time it’s put in cars.  But my Inner Curmudgeon is right about one thing, Thought Number TwoCareful examination is required any time it says Government on the label.   Weighing One against Two is what responsible citizens do.  Then, the trick is to get the Government to listen.  What do you think?

Dr. Eyes would prescribe pushing my button … gently … to make me Number One on Top Sites Tuesday #158 … then comment in the morning.  Thanks for coming by.

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7 Comments on “Social Drinking and Driving”

  1. cherperz Says:

    I, too am surprise there…but I am truly sick and tired of more and more things being regulated. But if you look at it from a vantage point of public safety, then I can sort-of, kind-of get on board.

    There is also the fact you just can’t, through any amount of regulation force people to be safe drivers. How many people are killed every year just because of ill timed, poorly executed, people in a big damn hurry, dumba** driving recklessly????? There is no test for that but those accidents are still going to kill people.

  2. territerri Says:

    It seems like every time I turn around, someone I know is experiencing one of life’s many tragedies. So many of them could be prevented if the government regulated this thing or that. The problem is, government will never regulate everything. And once they’ve got drunk driving, speeding, cell phone use in motorized vehicles and god knows what else regulated, there is going to be something else that causes tragedy. We’ll never be able to safeguard ourselves from every danger in this world.

    That’s not to say that I don’t think government shouldn’t regulate some things. Drunk driving seems a big enough problem, one that causes too many senseless deaths. I don’t think I’d be opposed to regulation.

  3. Hmmmm….. I’m torn like you. While I do think some people drink and drive and don’t even realize they’ve had too much to drink, thus putting EVERYONE on the road in danger, I am NOT a fan of the term government regulated anything.

  4. liggybeeg Says:

    I don’t know that having those things in a vehicle will even bring drunk driving incidences down. I’d think the method would still be flawed. Like, look, we’re also having enough trouble trying to deal with texting and driving. Controlling people with gadgets and stuff will only lead to people trying to find ways to skirt around it. What we really need to do is promote more social responsibility, I think.

    Have a safe and happy 4th, Bud!!!

  5. Trina Says:

    I like the idea of offenders having to put a breathalyzer in their care or insurance companies offering a rebate or reduction in your policy if you put one in. But making it mandatory? Please. That’s ridiculous! So much for using mouthwash on my way out the door in the morning!


  6. Wolfbernz Says:

    Hi Bud,

    Yeah, I see the catch 22 there. Help prevent unnecessary accidents or impose even more restrictions. Seems to me that there’s no reason to impose a law like that, but it would be great as a deterrent for young drivers and drunk driving offenders.

    Clicks for you!

  7. Trina Says:

    LOL I typed for wolf and signed my name.. OOPS!

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