How many time have you heard the tagline, "If you drink, don't drive and if you drive, don't drink?" Every year during the festive seasons, commercials, banners and posters will be used to relate this message to the general public in Singapore. How effective are they in putting the message across? No one really knows. One thing for sure, for one with high civic-mindedness, he/she will not need such means to remind them not to drive if they drink. Naturally for one who does not has any civic-mindedness, no amount of these commercials, banners and posters will get the message into their head. Fortunately, I believe the latter is only a minority group in our society as most people still have a good sense of social responsibility.
Drunk driving is an offence in most countries around the world. Anyone who is convicted of injuring or killing someone while under the influence of alcohol can be heavily fined, in addition to being given a lengthy prison sentence. In Singapore, repeated offence of drunk driving can cause you to be fined up to $30,000 SGD and three years' imprisonment. For an offender causing death or serious injuries can also be caned up to 6 strokes. In a report from Associated Press dated May 17, 2007, a man in New York was sentenced 20 years to life in prison for drunk driving for a seventh time since 1982. His first conviction in 1982 was involved in an alcohol-related crash that killed a man. He was sentenced to one year in the county jail after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter and misdemeanor DWI.
According to the Office for National Statistics of UK, they reported that alcohol related death rate in the UK continued to rise in 2006, from 12.9 deaths per 100,000 populations in 2005 to 13.4 in 2006. The number of alcohol-related deaths more than doubled from 4,144 in 1991 to 8,758 in 2006. In the US, in 2006, an estimated 17,602 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes—an average of one every 30 minutes. These deaths constitute 41 percent of the 42,642 total traffic fatalities (from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
From a speech by Dr. Teo Ho Pin, Chairman of The Government Parliamentary Committee for Law and Home Affairs of Singapore dated 13 December 2006; he cited an accident which happened earlier in March that year. Two colleagues were on their way home together on a motorcycle and they crashed into the centre divider along Bukit Timah Expressway and their bodies were found lying along the road. It was found later that both men had a high concentration of alcohol in their blood. In that tragedy, two families lost not only their sole breadwinners but also their husbands and fathers. Indeed as what he mentioned, “The penalties of drink-driving are very high – with the ultimate penalty being death.”
The serious consequences of drunk driving cannot be overemphasized and the consequences don’t end with legal action. It could very well cause a disruption in your life. More often than not, drunk driver endangers not only himself/herself, but also other innocent road users. Often time, you may think that you are still sober enough to drive after drinking but there are too many cases where drunk drivers caused death of their loved ones and innocent parties.
Prevention is always better than cure. If you are going out on a group, there can be a designated driver to send the rest home. And in the case when even the designated driver had a few drinks, there is always public transport or a cab instead. Never leave things to chance. When it happened, saying things like, “If I know … I would not drunk drive” or “I thought I am still in control” or “I’m sorry, I did not mean to kill her.” Whatever you’ll be saying, it would not make any sense anymore. Please do not ruin your night of fun and enjoyment and be sentenced to a lifetime of guilt and regret. Everyone of us can do our part to make this world a safer place for everyone else to live in.