We're told by HS that people who drive under influence often have a problem with alcohol and they may be not entirely functional as members of modern society.
Big, big surprise. Who would ever have thought of that? That people who are sober would not drive under influence? And people who do DUI are people who regularly drink themselves out of their senses? At least this does not seem to appear too obvious to those numerous officials at the Ministry of Traffic and Communications, who prepare tightened legislation for traffic.
Yes, we do have occasions of utmost recklessness and stupidity in traffic. Far too many of them, although much much fewer than in most countries of the world, the nearest worse example being Russia.
The most extreme cases combine many, if not all, aspects of risk behaviour, something along these lines: a 17-year-old boy drives (a stolen car) with a 0.25 % blood alcohol content (legal limit being 0.05 %), at the speed of 165 km/h (in a 50 km/h zone), against a red light, past a car that had stopped at the lights, and hits a pedestrian who was crossing the street. Or just hits a tree and kills everyone in the car. This is the fifth time the driver was caught DUI with a stolen car, and he has a row of so-called "conditional jail sentences" in his history. (Usually it's a he, not a she, although we're developing in equality.)
So, what does the investigation board set up by the ministry propose as actions from lessons learned? Usually, the list is:
- Reduce the legal limit of BAC from 0.05 % to 0.02 % (but what difference does this make as the guy was already ten times above this limit? The only outcome is that DUI will cease to be a shameful offence, because 0.02 % BAC does not impact driving capability negatively, so the DUI fines will be just yet another random tax.)
- Reduce the speed limit on this road from 50 km/h to 40 km/h (though the criminal in question did not care about the existing speed limit in the first place, so why should this change anything?)
- Make an alcohol-sensitive lock mandatory in new cars (although the guy was driving and old, stolen car whose any kind of locks were already circumvented, so how would this help?)
- Raise the age of getting a driving license from 18 to 21 and tighten up the requirements (altough the guy was already now too young to have a license, and wouldn't ever have got it under current rules because of repeated offences)
- Increase the number of mandatory driving lessons in driving school (though the guy never went to driving school - but other clients will pay more to owners of the schools, who happen to be pals of the guys at the Ministry)
- Arrange traps for ordinary drivers. (Park an unmarked police car 4,80 meters in front of a zebra crossing. Fines to anyone who doesn't stop as the distance is less than 5 meters.)
- Enforce an obligatory, GPS-based tracking of all vehicles (except vehicles used by professional criminals, who'll be able to avoid this without any real punishment, because you can collect fines only from middle-class people, and professional criminals don't belong to prison, they need help and support.)
What I would propose instead? I'd say that we should lock up people who repeatedly drive recklessly under influence, and enforce an anti-drug and anti-alcohol programme to them. First keep them in jail and give treatment, then slowly release with mandatory antabus capsules. Things like that.
This would help traffic safety, but it wouldn't collect money to the state and to the friends of ministry employees (like driving schools), so it is not going to happen.