Behind the Wheel

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Obama’s Opinion of Drunk Driving Will Kill Innocent People

This news story about a child killed by an illegal immigrant drunk driver would be just another in the endless string of DUI fatality
stories.  But this one has people angry because it comes at the same time President Obama has stated his intention to make drunk driving convictions a non-deportable offense.

While this is playing out nationally as part of the immigration issue, there is another issue inspiring the President.  And it taps into the cultural change that needs to take place if we are going to put an end to drunk driving.

dashcam image doctored to imply that President Obama will one day be arrested for drunk driving on a golf cart

A glimpse into the future?

This president is a stunningly normal guy.  He has a many traits that are common with a lot of people.  One of these traits that he has shown publically and repeatedly is that he likes to drink now and again. [“we’ll have a Your Favorite Drink – Summit”]  This puts him eye to eye with average folks like you and me.  We see high profile people from entertainers to businessmen to presidents who use alcohol as a noticeable facet of who they are in order to make us like them.

But here’s the thing.  When a high profile figure publicly expresses an appreciation for alcohol, it would be positive for the Culture to see them also come out and take a stand against drunk driving.  Again, it’s really the same for you and me.  Regardless of whether we drink or not, we each need to take a personal stand against drunk driving and vow to prevent it around us.  That affects the people around us in our own private audiences.  The President’s audience is as big as it gets.  The impact could be huge.

It is a challenge though, because inherently when we like something controversial, we seek to intellectually ‘accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.’  Think about it.  When was the last time you heard any major sports team owner or manager say anything bad about drunk driving?  The truth is, when a player or manager gets arrested for DUI, these guys never even utter the words drunk driving.  Now that’s eliminating the negative!  Only the drunk driving doesn’t seem to go away by sweeping it under the rug.  Like my aging mother-in-law, they are surprised every time the same thing happens again.

Drunk driving is deadly.  A third of all the DUI offenders to be affected by President Obama’s decision Will be arrested again.  Many of them WILL kill.  Is it really too much to ask that we not roll out the welcome mat to potential killers?

Perhaps inside, it complicates matters for Obama that his uncle is a serial drunk driver with immigration issues.  People who drink tend to be compassionate towards drunk drivers to the point of drinking with them and letting them drive away.  It happens all the time.

So we have a president deciding who should stay and who should go.  He has the unusual opportunity to take a bold stand against drunk driving and literally save hundreds of lives.  He could impact modern culture.  But something won’t let him.  Is it a kinship he feels with the likeable soul who has simply had a beer or two and managed to drive home?  Is it the family thing?

I’d really like to have a Latte Summit with this guy find out what’s driving him.  Why are so many Americans going to have to die because of this decision?

And as I like to point out, drunk driving is common in both parties.  This has nothing to do with political parties and everything to do with preventing death.  Don’t forget, we could experience three 911 style attacks every year and drunk driving would still kill more Americans.  That’s Terror!  Drunk driving needs to be addressed publically and consistently.  It needs to be part of the dialog if we are to see any real change.  Any opportunity to change the behaviors cause drunk driving needs to be seized.

That said, I predict a golfcart DUI in this president’s future.

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How Google's Autonomous Cars Will Help PREVENT Drunk Driving

Google car gets a peek at you from CNBC website

Google car gets a peek at you from CNBC website

The Google Car looks so friendly, doesn’t it?  I’ve written here a couple of times about the future of drunk driving prevention and the technology and laws that will be required to eliminate drunk driving entirely.  I’ve stated we’ve got several decades to go before we see nothing but drunk-proof cars on the roads.  And although we may not ever actually own one, the Google cars show a promising glimpse of future services which prevent drunk driving.

I say we won’t own one because the cars we buy will allow driver intervention no matter how automated they become.  This comes from the auto manufacturers themselves.  Alan Hall, a communications manager at Ford is quoted as saying

“Our view of the future is that the driver remains in control of the vehicle. He is the captain of the ship.”

But the Google car is a different concept all-together.  You cannot steer or brake.  There is no steering wheel or pedal.  As Sergey Brin stated,

“Most cars are used only for an hour or two a day … The rest of the time, they’re parked on the street or in driveways and garages. But if cars could drive themselves, there would be no need for most people to own them. A fleet of vehicles could operate as a personalized public-transportation system, picking people up and dropping them off independently, waiting at parking lots between calls.”

This idea frames the automobile as a service rather than a possession. Think of it as Googling a ride to the mall. Your scheduled or demand-requested ride pulls up and waits for you to get in. You get out at your destination. The car goes away. Simple. One car could provide many rides to different people throughout the day. Of course, the ‘hour or two a day’ that Sergey says we drive is typically the SAME hour or two for most people, getting to and from work. It doesn’t make sense to build enough Google cars to get everybody to work at 7-9am and pick them all up at 3-5pm. That ride will still require some other mass transit or your own vehicle. In fact, many of the Google cars users will probably own cars as well.

But deploying fleets of Google cars for the majority of our other local transportation needs can lead to some interesting possibilities for drunk driving prevention. George Carlin is credited with the line,

“If you shouldn’t drink and drive, why do bars have parking lots?”

Well, what if bars and restaurants that serve alcohol indeed had no parking lots, just drop-off and pick-up zones for Google cars? That would be some serious drunk driving elimination!

But we’ll still have our own cars, we’ll still go somewhere to drink (maybe an party or a friend’s house) and we’ll still be left with the task of getting home. At this point, the Google car is about the same as a cab. You’re getting an anonymous ride home while leaving your car behind. Of course, this is where the designated driver service  still comes in handy. But there is something else Google could do to elevate themselves above 99.99% of all taxis. Offer a “Free Ride Back” program.

You’re at the party and you realize your friend who was driving is now drinking. You Google your ride (however we do those things by then) home and select the “leaving my car” option. The Google car knows where you are and alerts you when it arrives. It takes you home and lets you schedule a time the next day to be reunited with your car. It will even remember where your car is if you don’t! At the appointed time, along comes Google car to take you back to where you left your car.

Providing the ride back to your car for free would create an additional incentive to use this tactic when you’ve been drinking.  Between ferrying people to and from bars and providing a safe alternative to driving after drinking (that still gets your car home), a fleet of Google cars could clearly accomplish some serious drunk driving prevention one day.

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Designated Driving 101 by Spencer Ware

Not a Selfie – This pic shows Spencer Ware in the back seat of the cop car. His friends are drunker than this.

The designated driver must NEVER be the Least Drunk of the bunch!  Illustrating this basic point is Seattle Seahawk, Spencer Ware who was arrested for drunk driving with a couple of friends [...]

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David Cassidy Faces Bigger Problem than Drunk Driving

Come On Get Happy

First Florida, then New York, and Now Los Angeles – is there a way we can get David Cassidy put on a no-fly list?  Everywhere this serial drunk driver goes, he endangers the public and gets arrested.  David has stood up to his demons before and unfortunately, he keeps falling back [...]

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Why Autonomous Cars WON'T End Drunk Driving

Cars that can drive themselves appear to be on the horizon.  How will this impact drunk driving?  If the car is the driver, will we still be held unaccountable for anything that happens while we are passengers?

When we wrote about the future of drunk driving prevention, we intentionally left autonomous vehicles out of the discussion. [...]

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Our Monthly Breathalyzer Drawings at Hooters

Over the last 6 months, DrinkingAndDriving.Org has been partnering with BACtrack to do breathalyzer giveaways at public events.  Since recent headlines make what we are doing together all the more timely, I wanted to talk about it here.

Do you know .05 from .08?  I mean when you’re drinking, can you tell the difference?  The NTSB recommendation [...]

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Forget .05 - It's POLD You Need to Know About!

When the NTSB published their recommendation to lower the legal limit for driving from .08 BAC to.05, it was one of several recommendations aimed at all 50 states in their Safety Report entitled, “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving.”  This document is an excellent resource for anyone truly interested in where we have been [...]

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Farrah Abraham Teaches Drunk Driving Prevention

Farrah Abraham has written two blog postings to describe the events of her St. Patrick’s Day drunk driving arrest.  In doing so, she has provided a powerful educational tool for those of us who want to prevent drunk driving!  Some of it just needs to be interpreted in the proper light.  The two original postings [...]

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Does Mr. Checkpoint Cause or Prevent Drunk Driving?

Last week, I received an email from K. expressing concern that DrinkingAndDriving.Org partners with Mr. Checkpoint.  Mr. Checkpoint is a service that provides free text alerts for DUI checkpoints.  Here is K.’s email …

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From: k.

Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2013 8:06 AM

To: dado@drinkinganddriving.org

Subject: website question

Found your website recently and thought it was very good until I came [...]

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Cowboys Use MADD in Statue of Liberty Play!

“Hey, look me!  What am I doing, huh?  Hey!  I’ve got the ball over here!  Hey Look, look this way …  OOPS , I handed it to the guy behind me!!!  Ha!”

We’ve talked about the drunk driving culture within the Cowboys.  Their culture says, “We’ve been drinking together and I don’t care if you drive [...]

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