None for the Road

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By Roberto P. Alabado III

Planning Perspectives

Thursday, January 30, 2014


IF THE City of Davao can eliminate reckless speeding drivers then why can’t we have strong action against driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs? I would not be surprised if the main cause of the accidents at night is due not to over speeding but to DUI.

I have nothing against drinking alcohol even up to the wee hours of the night. Beer and scotch are my favorite poisons. What I am against is irresponsible drinking. We have cases of rowdy behavior in pubs and drinking holes where people just couldn’t handle themselves when drunk. That is why we see police patrol cars stationed almost nightly outside the watering holes of the city to prevent drunkards from spoiling the happy mood of party-goers.

I really do not care about those drunks who mess up the party within the pubs or bars, after all they are happy in the company of their fellow binge-drinkers. I am more concerned of what happens when they get out of the bar and turn themselves into a menace of society.

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This happens when drunks/nakainom/lasing/hubog get behind the wheel and become deadly weapons.

When persons who do not have complete control of their mind and bodies drive vehicles be it a motorcycle, a car or a truck they become unguided weapons with the potential of killing masses of people. Even if they do not kill, they will surely maim as well as damage properties.

This is what happened to my ex girlfriend who now lives with me (my wife), she was just peacefully driving along the highway when her vehicle was hit by a tricycle which was bumped from behind by another vehicle. The other vehicle was driven by someone who had a few drinks in a party. Surely he enjoyed the company of his friends but he caused pain to the injured tricycle driver who lost three of his teeth well as the inconvenience caused to us.

At the Talomo Police Station, we were impressed at the competence of PO1 Atugan who investigated the vehicular accident. He showed great facilitation skills by trafficking the discussion and arguments between the involved parties. His comprehension of traffic laws as well as quick analysis of the incident was admirable. He carried his duty to accompany the drivers to SPMC for DUI testing as efficiently as possible. If these are the stuff our young police officers are now made of, then implementation of traffic laws in this city will be easy. Keep up the good work, Sir.

What is the economic cost of the few drinks? The administrative cost of the police who investigated the case, the medical expenses of the injured party, the loss of income of the tricycle driver because of the pending case, the cost of the repairs for the damage of the vehicles involved, the lost opportunities in time spent reporting to the police station investigating the case and so much more.

This is just a small amount if we compare this with the major vehicular accidents that occur almost nightly in our city roads. How much have these major injuries and deaths cost our society? How many thousands of pesos will go to operation and hospitalization costs, burial (worst case scenario) and how do your quantify the immeasurable cost of ‘kamingaw’ of his/her loved ones?

How many DUI cases are there every night? Why are these not highlighted as a clear and present danger to the public? I think I have to do research on my hypothesis that more people are injured and dead due to vehicular accidents caused by drunk driving than reckless driving.

If we can enforce the national law on speed limits within the city boundaries then why can’t we impose the Republic Act No. 10586, otherwise known as the Act Penalizing Persons Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Dangerous Drugs and Other Similar Substances?

Police stationed outside bars and drinking areas should also monitor drunks going out of bars and attempting to drive. Once this happens, all they have to do is apprehend the driver on the act even if he has just driven a meter or two then slap him with DUI charges. They would save lives by doing this.

Speed guns for speeding vehicles? Why not provide portable breath analyzers for our police? Our police can used the traditional sobriety tests first – the walk on a line test, eye and motion coordination, verbal tests and smelling their breaths (phew!) then if still in doubt use the breath analyzers if confirmed then send them to a medico-legal for proper assessment.

While it is good that drug testing during renewing drivers’ licenses was stopped but we should mandatorily subject drivers who are involved in vehicular accidents to DUI tests immediately after the incident to ascertain if they were really fit to drive.

If a driver is confirmed as driving under the influence by the police and medico-legal then it should be straight to jail for him. Just leave the vehicle where he was apprehended, call the TMC to tow it for storage in their garage. In the morning when he sobers up, he can pay the fine for drunk driving as well as pay the garage fees of the TMC. A night in jail may be enough to remind him to take a taxi next time he goes partying.

I know that many will grumble about this if implemented as if we are infringing on their right to party. The right to party and go binge drinking comes with responsibility and one of which is to ensure that your inebriated happiness does not result to harm, injury or death to others.

If you drink more than one beer or shot of alcohol, please do not drive but take a cab. It would be much cheaper to pay the taxi fare than the mess you will be in when caught drunk driving. rpalabado@gmail.com

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 30, 2014.

Opinion

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