The news report says, “There was a tragic accident on the highway last night.” And we all perk up to listen to the details. Then when they say “speed and alcohol were not a factor”, we all breath a sigh of relief as if to say, “well that’s okay then, it was just an accident”. The truth is, it wasn’t an accident at all. Someone made a mistake and now someone, and perhaps several people are dead.
I suppose there might be such a thing as a traffic “accident” but killing someone by falling asleep at the wheel, failing to replace those bald tires, passing on a curve, or gazing at the scenery is not accidental. That is clearly negligence. Still, the term we use is motor vehicle “Accident” instead of what they really are, crashes caused by negligence.
We have chosen to bring the full wrath of our society to bear on drinking drivers for good reason. They are a menace to human life. It’s a fact, though, that ‘distracted drivers’ take more lives on our roads than drinking drivers, and speeding drivers are a close third. I wonder what motivates us to punish distracted drivers and speeders with a meaningless little fine when we know that together they are by far the greatest threat to human life on our highways.
If we are serious about enacting laws that focus on dangerous driving, one would think that a distracted driver caught texting while doing 100 km per hour on Highway 1 would not be treated any differently than a person over .08.
Take their car away, charge them, drag them into court, fine them $5,000 and prohibit them from driving for two years, possibly make them lose their job and publicly humiliate them. And just like the impaired driver, they should be charged and punished to the full extent of the law even if they have not been involved in a crash.
We know that strict drunk driving laws save lives. As far as I can see there is nothing about a speeder, a drinker, or a distracted driver that makes their particular brand of deadly carelessness any better or worse than the rest, and a just society would most certainly punish all dangerous drivers equally wouldn’t you think? I don’t know, “Mothers against Drunk, Distracted, and Speeding Drivers” has a certain ring to it don’t you think?