Drunk Driving Laws are Not Driven by Concerns for Public Safety
A few days ago, I heard that NTSB has recommended a further lowering of the allowable blood-alcohol concentration from 0.08 to 0.05. This proposed lowering of the legal limit is supposed to help ‘save more lives’ or something along those lines. In case you are wondering, the original alcohol limits (0.15-0.10) came into being after testing thousands of people in the late 1930s. Even subsequent research in that field as late as the 1960s found that BAC levels below 0.08-0.09 are not associated with any worthwhile impairment of driving skills or ability.
The current crop of laws surrounding drunk-driving started coming into existence around the 1980s and were largely driven by activist single-issue groups such as MADD and SADD. Coincidentally, some “objective” scientists who were able to create and present revised data to support such laws subsequently benefited from increased funding resulting from more public interest in that area- but that is the topic of another post. This one is my take on what really drives all the laws, rules and regulations surrounding drunk driving.
In my opinion- most legislation, regulation and activism surrounding the prosecution of drunk driving has little or nothing to do with ensuring public safety or preventing automobile accidents.
Let us face it, there are many other equally or more important factors that increase the risk of both impaired driving and accidents. What about fatigue, lack of sufficient sleep, medications and using your smartphone? What about hyperactive children or morons in the backseat? Does anybody really believe that moderate drinking (BAC between 0.08-0.10) and driving causes more accidents than being overworked and sleep deprived? What about people who are checking their smartphone or driving around with morons in the backseat?
Is a lost life or limb more tragic if the driver was moderately drunk than sleep deprived or borderline stupid?
So why is the ‘system’ so interested in prosecuting moderate drinking and driving? How many people die in automobile accidents nowadays? How many get injured? In what percentage of accidents is the more guilty part moderately drunk? What about all of the other causes? Do the agencies even release honest statistics about these things? Don’t more people kill themselves than die in car accidents? Could we not reduce deaths from suicide by making it illegal? What about medical mistakes- still the 2nd or 3rd most cause of death?
It is therefore clear that the system has no intrinsic interest in reducing the number of preventable deaths.
So what drives the desire to go after drunk driving? Why go after a small but visible factor for automobile accidents while ignoring larger but not so obvious ones. In my opinion, it really comes down to a show on control and relevance. Let me explain that idea with an example.
We, as a society, argue over whether gay marriage should be legalized and whether it is ‘natural’. But how many of us display the same energy or zeal and try to fix the dismal state of heterosexual marriage? Would you not agree that fixing heterosexual marriages (which are the majority anyway) is more important than worrying about the legality and ‘naturalness’ of gay marriage? So.. why is if far easier to find people opposed to gay marriage than fixing heterosexual marriage?
The answer to that question is both unpleasant and revealing. People have little interest in fixing big problems because that is often hard and complicated. Solutions to such problems often expose stupidity dressed up as tradition and wisdom. Fixing them also disrupts established parasitic institutions and hierarchies. In short, fixing real problems is hard, messy and humiliating.
Fixing non-problems or token ‘problems’ is relatively easy and allows most people to feel self-righteous, competent, smart and generally good about themselves. Fixing them also does not upset established parasitic institutions and hierarchies- indeed, it often gives them relevance and legitimacy. It is also far easier to maintain the delusion that societies and civilizations are functional, “right” and “natural” when the opposite is true.
Non-problems and token ‘problems’ provide focal points for developing religions, ideologies and other ponzi schemes to fleece the gullible. They provide decent self-employment opportunities for those who can preach and proselytize against them. It is also possible to make lots of money and employ many people to police and prosecute ‘violations’ of pseudo-solutions. Furthermore, some people seem to get a rush out of pissing on other people in the name of defending society from these ‘problems’. Did I mention that crusades and wars against ‘non-‘ or marginal problems are an excellent way for an established hierarchy and system to maintain public legitimacy. In the end , it is about continuing a shitty scam which ‘benefits’ a few at the cost of everybody else.
What do you think? Comments?