Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Singapore – Penalize Passengers of Drink Driving Vehicles?

Driving under the influence of alcohol is an inconsiderate and selfish act. It is an abuse of freedoms and the honour code in a free society.
Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence suggests drink driving is fairly common in Singapore. It seems to be an accepted practice in Singapore. There is seldom any peer pressure from friends or colleagues to refrain from driving after a few drinks.
Singaporean public figures often set a bad example. In the last few years, many have been arrested for the offence.

Most drivers justify their behaviour by claiming that they are 'in control' despite their drinks. I have heard some drivers tell me that eating a slab of butter or drinking one cup of coffee and a twenty minute nap is sufficient for the effects of a night out to wear off!
Driving under the influence has consequences. In the event of accidents, it can destroy people's lives. Speak to any family member who has suffered due to an alcohol related driving accident and they will inform you of the tragic consequences of driving under the influence. Unfortunately, the cost is all too often borne by innocent victims and not by the intoxicated driver.
The Singapore Traffic Police asserts that drink driving is a serious problem. In 2008, there were 3,586 drink driving arrests while 235 individuals were injured and / or killed in drink driving accidents. The incidence of fatalities increased in 2008 versus 2007.
Responsible adults can play a valuable role in curbing the hazards of driving under the influence. The time honoured tradition of appointing a 'designated driver' for a night out is an easy solution.
Being tough with friends who are clearly over the alcohol limit by restraining them from driving is a trickier decision. Nevertheless, you may save your friend from a life long criminal record by being tough with them.

A more radical scheme is for the authorities to consider penalizing passengers in vehicles driven by persons above the legal alcohol limit. A criminal record may be too harsh but maybe a hefty fine for the passengers? It will certainly act as a deterrent to the anti-social vice of driving under the influence.
If a passenger can be fined for sitting in a car without fastening her seatbelt then why not implement a fine for a potentially more dangerous offense – abetting dangerous driving? We may be surprised to note how quickly such a penalty alters the behaviour of otherwise complacent Singaporeans.

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