Inspection- Teaching People How to Drive Drunk: Safely

Boy, I really do pick the topics, don’t I?

Here is what I’m not doing…

1. Encouraging people to drive drunk.
2. Advocating drunk driving.
3. Trying to get anyone on some “radar” to be stopped more than anyone else.

This column was inspired by an actual pre-existing program that could serve as a platform on which to build the course. The police in some parts of the country for a few years now have had courses where drivers, who have to have a ride home, get to drive after consecutive drinks on a course in the middle of an empty parking lot. After each drink they drive again. After a while they begin to notice that cones and placard people become easier targets when they think they’re paying attention. It’s a grand way to teach the ready to boast, “I drive well drunk,” crowd that maybe they’re not as “talented” as they think they are.

I would love to see this go nationwide and become a requirement of sorts for the of age drinking crowd. I would also like to see it expanded to showing how drivers can handle emergency situations and tough driving conditions “under the weather.” Think I just mean alcohol? No, not really. Trying to drive under the influence can mimic several conditions: being too tired to drive, having a medical condition that makes you respond sluggishly or erratically… It’s not perfect, by any means, but at least drivers would get some lessons in, “What if you find yourself behind the wheel and suddenly you realize you may be having a problem. Underline “may.” If you know you’re having a problem, of course you should pull over… or not even get in if you know that far in advance.

Personally, I’d rather it be run by professional driving instructors, not police officers. Why encourage paranoia?

“But Ken, that’s like encouraging them to drive drunk!”

Yes, and allowing people to own guns is encouraging them to kill each other?

Allowing access to birth control is encouraging sex?

OK then…

Confiscate all guns and arrest anyone as a potential criminal/terrorist who possesses one! To hell with it having been legal, they’re a danger and we have a right to protect ourselves! Talk only about abstinence, nothing else! Ban birth control of all kinds.

We’ve seen how well either has worked, how likely they are to happen and what kind of regimes push such policies. Simply put, banning most things as the only solution is no solution at all. And unless we get draconian to the point of gutting the “free” out of society, neither does just being “tough.”

The NRA gives safety lessons with guns. I can tell you from personal experience: encouraging them to abuse guns? Not. I have had sex education. I can tell you from personal experience, I certainly didn’t run out and have sex, though like every hormone raging teen I was certainly interested… to put it mildly. (In fact, it was usually the boys and girls whose mothers and fathers refused to let them take sex ed; or thought they were too wise to take it, that wound up “missing” a few months of school, or avoiding that girl crying in the hall before she went on “a church retreat” to take care her “problem.”) Me? It was quite a while after sex ed before I actually had the, um… pleasure? Ah, first experiences are rarely what we dream they will be. Let’s just say I wish I could have offered more… pleasure.

If educating on a topic “gives a license” to do wrong, or encourages, then we might as well go back or Orc beating the hell out of Ick with rock or stick; then dragging the woman he “won” home to have his way with her. That’s back when we had real morals, before education screwed us up, right?

Drunk driving is a problem. Driving while talking on a cellphone is a problem. As much as it makes me cringe to type this, I would recommend a course on that, or including it in a course called “Driving Distractions” that uses whatever kind of distractions there might be in a safe environment… just like the course the police offer I mentioned… to show how distractions like alcohol and cellphones can cause accidents. But I would also add, “If you do find yourself distracted…”

Have you ever had a medical condition you didn’t know you had that cropped up while driving? I have. Maybe off and on conditions like weather mimic the sluggish response time alcohol offers? Check. I was locked on a shut down interstate once; shut down after I got on it, where there was no exit for miles and sheer ice over the Atchafalaya swamp in Louisiana. Sheer ice coated everything. Despite winding up behind a semi that had tipped and slid sideways, three ice cream trucks that has crashed into several cars at the end of a causeway where one guy jumped into the swamp to avoid being hit while seeing if the guy in the semi was OK… I hit nothing.

Good driving take patience, judgment and and an ability to drive impaired. Impaired by conditions, impaired by… whatever.

Distractions happen. No matter how pure a driver tries to be, there’s always a chance some otherwise excellent driver will have to face similar conditions. It’s time to stop teaching our drivers to drive under less than perfect conditions.

Hey, I’m not saying it should save anyone from a ticket, or being arrested.

But it could very well save some completely innocent person’s life.

Isn’t that worth it?


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

Copyright 2009
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved