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The NTSB wants to lower the legal driving blood alcohol content to .05 from .08. This hasn’t proved to be as popular as I would have guessed, though it appears most commenters at OTB approve.

No surprise, but I’m not a huge fan of the idea. But, as a compromise, I’ll sign on to this if we were to start making a legal distinction between driving impaired/intoxicated (say, .05 to .12) and driving while blasted (higher than .12). There’s an argument to be made for pushing more people off the road, but current law relies a great deal on treating milder offenders like the truly dangerous save for prosecutorial discretion.

My drinking days are mostly behind me. I was the inheritor of the leftover liquor content of Leaguefest 2012 and despite there having been maybe 10oz left over, I still haven’t finished it. My weekend trips to the music bars where my regular consumption was seven beers over four hours or so are likewise done. So the Fish-You-I-Done-Mine part of me says “Sure, lower it.” Safer roads and all.

But at least a part of me remains a little exasperated by the contradictions of society. We pose drunk driving as a unique evil, and then proceed to use drunk driving as a metric to prove that other things are just as bad. Drunk driving is uniquely bad, but using a phone while driving is as bad as drunk driving.

By which they mean, it’s as bad as driving with a BAC of .08. If we lower the BAC to .05, then we open the door for more things that are “just as bad as drunk driving.” Fortunately, Ray LaHood’s proposal to disable cell phones while driving didn’t go anywhere, and probably won’t.

And even though sports radio may be just as dangerous as drunk driving, it probably won’t be banned any time soon. Cops in California are pulling people over for eating behind the wheel.

I expect smoking-while-driving to become expressly illegal (the food thing is discretionary enforcement rather than express law)at some point. I stopped smoking and driving years ago, but trust me when I tell you the danger of it does not come close to matching that of eating behind the wheel. But smokers, as always, are an easy target.

It all relates back to our society’s inability to accept risk. I fear that, ultimately, what gets legislated and enforced and what doesn’t will depend on which things we want to do because freedom, and which things others should not be allowed to do because safety.


Category: Road

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