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That’s Drunk Driving, in case you’re too young to know!         By Gerard Rissik

The other evening around 10 I felt a bit peckish and decided to take a drive up to our local KFC for a snack. It is not far, but one has to cross the highway to get there, on my way back I was pulled over by the cops who wanted to know if I had been drinking? I was mildly surprised that they thought that in what appears to be a fairly remote and isolated area they might find, shall we say customers. A few days later I was chatting with a friend who told me about someone else who had encountered the police at the same point. It turns out that the local country club, as well as few popular bars all on that side of the highway seem to draw most of their business from people on this side of the highway. The bridge in our area is the only point in quite some distance for cars to cross the highway. Apparently it is a money machine, just about every car crossing is driven by someone who has at the very least exceeded the limit, but in true South African form most are blind drunk. Something which we still seem to find acceptable?
DrunkDrivingThe World Health Organisation (WHO) says that South Africa tops the list of drunk-driving related deaths in the world.2015 figures show that 58% of road deaths were related to drunk driving and undoubtedly this will still be much the same. Every time that the subject comes up, law enforcement officials and many people call for bigger, tougher fines. This is not going to work. Not while we have unbridled corruption, it is far too easy to slip a traffic official some money for a cooldrink, get into your car and drive away.

Like so many of our problems and issues this comes down to us and what we see as acceptable and praiseworthy. Unfortunately while we complain that we live in a lawless country we do not do anything about it, in fact we tend to revel in our lawlessness. The thing is we need a change of attitude. We have to be concerned enough about each other to take action ourselves. I am not suggesting that we go out and become drunk driving vigilantes. But we have to stop tolerating people drinking and driving. We have to ask the person sitting getting drunk at the bar, “How are you getting home?” and suggest an Uber be ordered. When we hear the drunk driving stories we should not reward them with laughter or admiration, we should feel deeply shamed to be sharing drunk driving stories.
It is time for change, time for us to grow up and start taking responsibility for our lives and those of the people around us. We cannot sit back and say “this is a traffic/police/government/law enforcement issue” it is ours. We live in a democracy, and in a democracy you get the government that you chose. Let’s start choosing differently and get what we want.

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