Over the next couple of days, I’m going to post some of the articles that I have written for the Urban News over the past several months. Let me know what you think. –
It is time for us to get serious about drinking under the influence. We continue to treat this problem as if it were a college prank. It ain’t. We are talking about life and death. It is a privilege to drive a car, not a right. I believe that cars are a necessary part of being an American. There are only a few places in this country in which you can get around without a car. Everywhere else, you need a car; therefore, you need to adhere to the rules that each state has which govern who can drive a car.
A 20-something with 2 small children in his pickup truck is driving too fast on his way to Wal-Mart. His reflexes are impaired from his daily usage of methamphetamines. He doesn’t see the red light, or he believes that he can just run it. Halfway through the intersection, he slams into the driver’s side door of a Mini-Cooper. The 53-year-old mother of two is sitting in the front passenger’s seat, She is wearing a seat belt, but is killed instantly. What makes matters worse is that this killer was arrested 18 months earlier for driving under the influence when he hit several park cars. No one was injured in that crash. How many times does he have to kill or injure someone before we understand that cars can be used as deadly weapons when the wrong person is behind the wheel?
In 2013, over 32,000 people died on American roads. 32,000 is a lot of people. The good news is that we drive safer cars and more and more of us are surviving crashes. Alcohol is estimated to be involved in somewhere between 50 and 90% of motor vehicle crashes. This doesn’t include other mind-altering substances like methamphetamines, oxycodone, Valium, anti-depressants or any of a number of other drugs that dull the senses and slow the reflexes.
Trauma Surgeons, like me, have been trying to get the American public NOT to say “motor vehicle accident.” An accident is something that really can’t be prevented. A toddler running with a drink in his/her hand will spill it. That really isn’t preventable. As long as toddlers have drinks in their hands, they will spill. On the other hand, driving a car is different. There should be some thought going into the basic operation of a motor vehicle. Sometimes, we are driving too fast for the conditions. Sometimes we aren’t paying attention. Before you back up, you check your mirrors and look behind you before you backup. Right? I think that automated cars will be great help. They will be doing all of the basic “thinking” for us. Many of the crashes that we see today will be eliminated. Unfortunately, none of us can go and buy a Google car tomorrow. (I think that the Google Car will be great for some of us who have some issues will reflexes and eyesight.)
Ethan Couch is the boy who has been labeled by the media as suffering from Affluenza (being given too much by his parents). Couch was 16 years old when he was involved in a motor vehicle crash. He killed 4 people and injured 2 others. His alcohol level was a sobering 0.24, 3 times the legal limit. The judge thought that this was some type of minor offense. Ethan got no jail time. He got 10 years’ probation. What is that? If I drove my car across the judge’s lawn, I promise you he would give me more than just probation. Now, Ethan is back in the news because he is running from the law after having been caught on video drinking at a party. Can someone do the right thing and throw this guy in jail?
Look, there are tons of injustices in our society. There are some things that we really can’t figure out. This isn’t one of those situations. If you believe in justice, then folks who take mind-altering substances and then drive a car deserve to be thrown in jail for a good, long time. If we lean toward “being nice” and allow these folks to go scott-free, then aren’t we saying that the lives that were stolen had no value? To me, life is a gift and should be valued.