Archive for January, 2010

MADD Friends

January 14, 2010

I love Mothers Against Drunk Driving; they are an amazing organization that has done a great deal to stop drinking and driving.

Recently, I learned that taxpayers actually subsidize drinking and driving, and they have a campaign to stop this. According to a recent tweet, Alcohol-related crashes in the US cost the public an estimated $114.3 B including $51.1 B in monetary costs. People other than the drinking driver paid $71.6 billion of that, which is 63 % of the total cost of these crashes.

In response, MADD is advocating for supporting Tim’s Law: SB 303 and AB 463: Support Tim’s Law: SB 303 and AB 463

Sounds good.

However, I feel that though the drinking side of the equation has been beaten to death, we should address driving as well.

There are many bars where you need to drive to get there. In my mind this is a recipe for disaster because if you have to drive to the bar, you need to drive home. It’s unrealistic to expect someone to go to a bar then to not drink. There’s little else to do at a bar.

I think that designated drivers are an excellent idea. If I am stuck driving to a bar, I will always have a designated driver.

However, I generally don’t drive to bars because I generally don’t drive at all. This makes it very easy to avoid drinking and driving. I usually will walk to a bar.

However, as stated above, this is not always reasonable. Sometimes we don’t have a designated driver when we go out. Sometimes, we like to go out alone. Sometimes people get split up. Stuff happens when you are out. Even if someone gets drunk, they often won’t take a ride home because how to they get their car the next day? Remember, they needed to drive to get to the bar in the first place.

I think that the alternative is to decide that we have gone far enough in advocating for more responsibility. It was a good run, and it has saved countless lives. Not drinking and driving is the right thing morally. This wasn’t always the case, and MADD made a big impact for the better on society.

Now that this work is done, we need to move on to the next level.

I suggest that we should do more to make it easier to get to a bar without a car and harder to drive to a bar. Here are my suggestions. I’m open to new ideas as well:

Make it easier to get to bar without a car:

1.Beer van that will drive around and pick people up and take them home. Make this mandatory and free. Who will pay? I don’t know. If we free up $71 billion dollars, we could pay for a few buses. This point pays for itself.
2.Make bars local to communities. Only have bars in residential areas. Encourage other mixed use residences. This seems to be the opposite of development at the time. This “new” development has put many people at risk for no good reason at all.

Make it hard to drive to a bar:

1.Limit parking at bars. In fact, if an establishment makes most of their money from liquor, they shouldn’t have any parking at all. A parking lot is an invitation to drink and drive. Again, people should know better. They don’t always. See above.
2.No bars off a highway. If there are no sidewalks to residential areas as well as public transportation, there should be no bar. Period. Ban all bars that you need to drive to.

These are tough changes to make, but they will benefit everyone even people who do not drink at all. Everyone will be safer and happier. Much money will be saved. I’m imagining much more than $71 billion as people will become healthier while walking to the bars, cutting down on healthcare costs. Gasoline will be saved which will lead to lower gas prices. Don’t think that the amount of gas saved is small. People waste an enormous amount of gas just driving around looking for parking slightly closer to the door of their destination. We are talking millions of dollars in savings.

Other than the initial cost, the down sides are minimal. There will be many other advantages that are largely subjective and difficult to quantify. These will be the most valued advantages of them all.