I am going to post some thoughts on drinking and underride crashes for the holidays. Don’t Drink and Drive, the life you save will probably be someone you care about! A quarter or more of underride crashes involve alcohol and we can educate about drinking and driving, but there are other ways to save victims in these type of crashes. Some history. Years ago the head of MADD lead a successful campaign to remove the right to sue from passengers of drinking drivers. A majority of victims of drinking and driving are passengers of drinking drivers. MADD removed the right to sue from a majority of drinking and driving victims! Many of our trucking victims lost the right to compensation as a consequence. At the time, the Vice President of General Motors was on the Board of MADD and GM was the leading funder of the organization. Needless to say, GM would benefit from reduction in lawsuits for faulty crash protection in their cars and would be relieved of the burden to improve crash protection. Many alcohol involved fatal crashes occur to roadside obstacles such as trees, guardrails, and yes illegally parked or stopped trucks. Improving crash protection in cars finally did save scores of victims, but only after Volvo and later crash testing at IIHS made safety sell. Stronger enforcement worked but equally better vehicle safety design saved just as many victims.
I watched a local Sheriff Deputy give a presentation on victims of drinking and driving and stress the importance of enforcement to reduce the deaths and injuries. He referenced the deaths of 10 teens in drinking related crashes. They all died in crashes with roadside trees! It never occurred to him to also recommend crash cushions and removing roadside trees would probably save twice as many victims with less pain and cost. This is Vision Zero thinking. Stop just judging the behavior and solely focus on saving lives. What works? Enforce, educate, and place crash cushions – why not?
Drive defensively, do not drink or smoke and drive, and obey the speed limits! We will work for safer car and truck design, safer and better roadway designs, and enforcement of safety laws and increased public safety messaging. We can share responsibility and all live to enjoy the holidays. Vision Zero policies and thinking must be a part of all roadway safety efforts.
Happy Holidays – Live Long and Prosper!