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Lock up the drunks

KGOSIETSILE NGAKAAGAE
Nothing hurts like the loss of lives through road traffic accidents and it is just that season when society is so badly traum didacticatized by the same.

It hurts even more when the accident was perfectly avoidable. I have been through some rollover incidents and thankfully I am still here to talk about them.  Many are not. They have lost their lives.

Children have been orphaned and families have been devastated. You and I have lost loved ones in tragic road accidents and we carry the pain to this day. It is not the kind of pain you would wish upon anyone and it’s the kind you can hardly do anything about.

You just have to endure it and hope that in time, things will get better. It really matters not whether you are at fault or you are not. The experience is traumatic, either way.

It is traumatic more of the side of the victim of course, and the victim could be the driver or motorcyclist just as it could be the faulty pedestrian.  Some accidents are totally unforeseeable whilst others are not. An innocent driver cannot foresee a slip resulting from an oil or gravel spill on the road. Even a good tyre can blow up because it got weakened somewhat by some unknown cause.  Pedestrians rush onto the road all so unexpectedly and motorists make turns without signalling their intentions to do so.

Even if it is foreseeable on one side, it might not be foreseeable on the other. Either way, people have died and continue to die. This must come to an end.

But some accidents are totally within our contemplation and are avoidable. They are a natural result of our indiscretions. Some drunks who had been imbibing and clubbing all night unexpectedly veered into the lane of oncoming traffic and cost me three precious relatives all at a go.  The drunks perished too, but that it is no consolation to me or to their families.  Sadly, those constitute a significant fraction of the road carnage we normally endure at this time of the year. It is a season most defined by drunkenness and there is just too much of that on the roads.  Some of the really reprehensible conduct we see being displayed by drivers of mainly Honda Fits, BMW’s and VW Golf GTI’s are attributable to drunkenness.

Somehow, these vehicles have a draw for drunkards and people of irresponsible road behaviour. And I do not say that they are the only ones to blame. You find their variety in every other vehicle. I think the police should target this motley lot, though.

They are a category deserving of special attention. I think the police should lock up drunk drivers and if you are driving any of the above-mentioned vehicles they should

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lock you up for at least two days just to send a message to your ilk. Don’t think I am being jealous. I own one of these vehicles.

I do not know if any studies have been done to ascertain the age categories most complicit of the road carnage we suffer over the festive season.  But I do know that a lot of them have to do with drunken driving, over-speeding and general lack of care by drivers on the road. I know because that is part of my work.

To some extent, I did sympathise with the former president’s stance on alcohol especially with regards to drunken driving. Much as I thought it was being taken too far in some aspects, I understood the basis of his frustrations. Well, I did wonder why there was a name-and-shame campaign against drunken drivers while there was none against rapists but I concluded that that was fine still.

I wondered whether it made sense to reduce the breath alcohol content limit but that was fine too. At least we were dealing with or attempting to deal with a problem. What I do believe is that the issue is more a law enforcement problem. It is hardly about education.

Who doesn’t know that over-speeding kills? Who doesn’t know that driving whilst drunk puts their lives, those of pedestrians and other road users at peril? No, it is not about education. It about deliberate irresponsible behaviour as opposed to ignorance. Such behaviour must be met with sufficiently deterrent sanctions and it all starts with the police. The legal system is too slow to address the problem. In any case the sanctions thereof don’t work.

I am not the one simply to wail and to lament about problems. Let me tell you what will work, by me. The police must lock up drunk drivers. There is no need to take nor to cancel the licences of drunk motorists. They will still drive without those. They must be punished with a minimum charge of P20, 000 which if unpaid would result in imprisonment for at least six months.

I am saying P20, 000 because that is the prize of a Honda Fit. 

The concerned vehicle must be released only with judicial sanction and subject to judicial restraint and it should be possible to sell same to meet the sanction at the end of the trial. For a second offence, the drunk must be disqualified from not only owning a vehicle but holding a licence.

We need to be more decisive and to send a stronger message to these Honda Fit, Golf and BMW drivers.



Chief On Friday

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