Another life lost on the highway
drink driving kills
It was 2am, 28 July 1991. The summer heat was keeping everyone in-door. I was expecting a quiet night shift. I was the surgical registrar on call in a district hospital. Not bad to watch TV all night and get paid $52 an hour, I was hoping. Suddenly, all hell broke loose. The ER called for the resuscitation team. One dead-before-arrival, aged 18 and one coma scored 4 out of 15, aged 19. Airway, Breathing, Circulation..., when everything was taken care of, a CT scan was ordered. While the patient was having the CT scan, he had a cardiac arrest which failed resuscitation. The policemen gave the history that the car hit a lamp-pole at 150km per hour. One last thing left to do: blood alcohol concentration. Our victims were both found to have blood alcohol concentration at 0.28%.The drinking did more harm than making me work for my $52. Two young people lost their lives. Two families lost their loved ones. The drinking related deaths have been increasing in spite of the millions of dollars of education and advertising that went into the anti- drink driving campaigns. The problem lies in people counting on "safety limits". The limit of 0.08% is usually known to the public who try to achieve this by limiting themselves to two standard drinks. Tolerance to alcohol is variable between individuals. It may even be variable in the same individual, between different times. What is worse having had the first two standard drinks lifts one's inhibition and makes the third or fourth drink logical and reasonable. The drinking teen would challenge his companions for underestimating his ability to stay in a sound mind after just a couple of small drinks. Tragedy calls. Mass education campaigns are not enough. Neither are Breathe analyzers and legislation. We need prosecutions and sentences. We need to take away driving licenses from drink-drivers. We need to take drink-drivers off the road. The problem will also be helped by modern car designs that shut off the ignition when drink-drivers get behind the steering wheel. Before these become widely available, we need to be stern to protect our roads from our stoned drivers and these drivers from the roads.