I have memories of being a little girl and falling asleep while my parents were conducting themselves in a rather uncivilised manner at some sort of dinner party. There would be loud music (I remember a lot of UB40), dancing on tables, bottles of wine (corked, not screw tops, I’m talking way back ) and my brother and I passed out on the couch or under a table depending on the situation. At the end of the night we would be bundled up, popped on the backseat and would wake up the next morning in our own beds. We always woke up in our own beds. Safe and sound. Understand, my parents are not bad people, and weren’t bad people back then, they were just doing what everyone back then did.
Does that mean it was OK to drink and drive then? Definitely not. They just didnt know any other way.
Ask your parents how ‘green’ they were back in the 80’s and I can guarantee that the answer was ‘not very’. Nowadays we follow those ‘Three Rs’ ilke the gospel and most of wouldn’t dream of just tossing a recyclyble item into the bin. It has become the norm to re-use and recycle as much as possible. Just ike recycling options have grown in the past decade, so have the alternatives for drinking and driving. Sadly, these options are pricey and often unreliable and force most of us to just take a chance after a night out.
Please don’t for one second think I am pointing fingers or preaching, I am guilty of having driven drunk many times and have always breathed a small sigh of relief upon reaching my destination safely. I am however a lot more conscious now and a several years back I swore against texting and drinking while driving because I could think of no bigger nightmare than being responsible for the injury or death of someone else, due to my actions. We are very fortunate in that my fiance’s company offers a cab solution to all of its staff free of charge. (Are you listening, corporates?)
So, what are our current options?
– Cab and taxi services such as GoodFellas and Roadtrip and becoming increasingly popular…and increasingly expensive. With the cost of rising fuel prices it’s hitting us where it hurts most, our pockets.
– Inner city bus and train options are few and far between and not yet a viable option.
– Tuk-tuks are becoming fairly popular, yet these generally only run during working hours. I dont know about you, but when I need a cab the most it is definitely not on a Monday at 3 pm.
– Phone a friend. Always wise, yet something most of us never do for fear of inconveniencing that person.
Looking at the above options it’s easy for us to shrug our shoulders and say ‘well, then there’s nothing we can do, is there?’ but I think there is. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by some very smart people, be it in work environment or in my social circle and I believe that there is a solution out there, but I need your help.
We all know the death tolls on our roads are high (Research from Arrive Alive shows that drunk driving is one of the biggest threats to Road Safety in South Africa. Research indicates that 50% of people who die on the roads have a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05 gram per 100 millilitres) yet even that isn’t enough to make us stop. So what is?
The frightening stats as displayed in this visual (courtesy of www.sadd.org.za)
I’m not sure if you have noticed a shift in attitude towards your peers lately? I guess it’s called ‘growing up’ but I’ve noticed a trend towards a healthier lifestyle in Jozi. Several years ago we would spend our weekends boozing at the pub or hitting a club, then sleeping it off the next day. Nowadays my friends and I spend our time growing organic veggies (dont mock it ’till you’ve tried it) running, cycling, taking part in adventure races, camping (still undecided on that one) and just generally living healthier, fitter and happier.
Understand, I still drink wine by the gallon and believe a life without champagne is a life not lived, but I want to balance that with a life lived responsibly. I am never going to cut alcohol out of my life so what I’m proposing is a small change that could potentially make a huge difference.
“The dinner club with a twist” involves one person staying dry and sober for the night – and acting as a designated driver as well. In return, their dinner and drinks (alcohol free) are sponsored by the group – perhaps a Redbull thrown in the mix if you’re like my friend (I’ll call him Jim) who becomes a fun sponge when sober. This duty then gets rotated per group member for each outing. My advise – find a lot of friends to ensure you wont have to be Sober-Sandy every 3 weeks.
Another perk – drinking makes you fat! Think of this plan as a fitter physique one (If you’re anything like me then less love handles is always a strong motivator)
Jokes aside, the stats are scary. According to SADD the death toll of drunk driving has now risen to 12000 people, per year. I have lost a friend through drunk driving, and I’m sure you have too.
There are some things we cannot control, like taxes, in-laws and seasonal flu. Drinking and driving is something we can. Think responsibly act responsibly and let’s all try to make a difference on our roads.
I would love to hear any ideas you may have for lowering drinking and driving stats. Please share them in the comments section.