In the Festive Spirit.

A gentle reminder. I’d like to share an experience that I had this weekend regarding drinking and driving. Its obviously very relevant during the forthcoming festive season.

Many of you will know people who have had brushes with the authorities on their way home from the odd social session over the years.

Well, a couple of nights ago, I was out for a few drinks with some friends and had a few too many light ales than maybe I should have had – It happens.

Knowing full well I was very likely over the limit, and knowing I’d had a close call from being pulled over by a traffic cop to take a breathalyser only the week before, I did something I’ve never done before – I took a bus home!

Anyway, I arrived home safely, enjoyed the ride and it was all free of worry about police pulling me over and testing me.

I know we often avoid doing this and take the risk of using the car we came in to go home in, BUT DON’T DO IT! The police will eventually catch you, you will lose your licence and maybe even your livelihood!

I’m sharing this experience with you because the incident was a pleasant surprise to me, particularly since I had never driven a bus before!

26 thoughts on “In the Festive Spirit.”

  1. The signs make it quite clear here “If in doubt, TAKE THE BUS”

    Pat and Mick decided to do the same after a long night out. Pat disappears into the bus parking lot and after about twenty minutes Mick goes looking for him. ” What’s taking so long Pat?” “I’m looking for a number 27” says Pat.

    “Oh! hell! don’t bother, Pat. Here’s a 33 we can walk from the roundabout”

  2. Haha!

    By the way, what is a bus? Not too many of them in either Whatcom County or Wales come to that!
    If you didn’t drink and drive in either locations you would never go out ever!
    One becomes excessively adept at developing anti fuzz routes, forestry roads are particularly useful!

  3. Made oi larf, that did.

    When I dieI I want to die quietly like my uncle, not screaming like the passengers on his bus.


  4. You’ve no,idea how pi$$ed we get and drive home.

    There’s no public transport here.

    I’ve had 9 pints today, driven home, and made it home (pheeeew!) I have no choice, I had over a dozen beers on Saturday (The 7’s event) and made it home.

    I’ll await the incoming, but at the end of the day it’s horses for courses, don’t sit 10,000km away and remind me to be careful or vigilant, it comes natural.

    My wife has just read this comment and agrees

  5. Soutie – Agreed. Virtually no public transport here either and anyway I’d have a kilometre hike up the hill at the end of it, but the GNR (Portuguese traffic police) are red hot and set up road blocks at night, breathlysing everone after a full documents check – personal and vehicle. I would not dream of driving back even from the village with more than a legal cargo. However…. there is a bar where I can drink to my heart’s content, drive literally twenty metres on the open road (naughty wolf!) and then make my way back to The Cave via the ‘caminhos’, the empty, agricultural dirt tracks that criss-cross the region. 4WD essential 🙂


  6. Soutie,

    No incoming from me chum.

    There are local conditions and attitudes which prevail and who the feck are outsiders to judge. What I will say is, be careful. I am sure you wouldn’t cry if you were left crippled because you had a prang because you were drunk at the wheel, but I bet you might struggle with the thought that you had killed someone.

  7. Absolutely agree with you, Furry.

    I’m certainly not one to judge, I have taken the odd risk in the past, but only locally, when there is not much traffic and I live in a pretty rural area, so not much likelihood of meeting anything else on the road, never mind a policeman!

    I wouldn’t do it at this time of the year, and I’m only done it in the past when I’ve had a couple of drinks: I may even have passed a breathalyser, but I don’t know. I don’t want to take the risk, for just the reasons you have stated. I’m not getting any younger and I’m aware that my reactions are not as good, and a couple of drinks does not help.

  8. PS. I’m almost always the designated driver in our household, so I really have become used to not drinking when we go out. Daughters are good though, if they are included they are happy to drive if we go out locally, because they usually have to drive home, unless they stay overnight.

    We do occasionally book a taxi if it’s a special occasion.

  9. A great joke, Bravo.

    And, as so often, it leads to a more serious discussion!

    The only time I drank and drove, I took the side out of a friend’s car. He was so drunk that he stood there and laughed while I did it. I got out and got someone to put the car back in the parking space and called a taxi home. Fortunately, my friend was still laughing the next day!

    Long before the drink drive laws were enacted most people I knew drank and drove… including Bearsy. Then we saw the effects of drink, drive accidents and I knew an ambulance driver who told me that the ‘adverts’ were mild compared to the ‘real’ thing.

    I’m afraid that the answer doesn’t lie with whether one gets caught or not, or whether one would not be able to go out if one didn’t drink and drive.

    I recall a very nasty case some years ago, where the parents claimed that if they didn’t leave their small children unattended they would never be able to go out. The answer there was – take your children with you or don’t go out.

    The answer with drinking and driving, for me, is similar – either don’t go out or if you want to go out – then don’t drink.

    There are always choices.

  10. I agree, Boa. I used to have the enviable task of knocking on doors and pestering tearful people whose relatives had died in drink driving accidents. Not something you forget in a hurry. I am in favour of a complete ban on alchohol if you plan on driving.

  11. Bearsy.

    Your comment # 13, is quite out of order, in my opinion. Fair enough that you don’t agree with Soutie drinking and driving, but to then extrapolate rape, and a complete disregard for life, especially blacks, seems to me to be a step too far.

  12. I don’t know, Ara; I consider drink driving, especially heavy drinking and driving, to be in that category, because it can lead to the same horrific results.
    Well; sorry. It is late and I should be in bed 😉

  13. NIght, BB.

    I would be interested to see the statistics regarding how many drunken drivers end raping, but yes, the results can be quite catastrophic, I agree. I’m just not sure that one crime inevitably leads to the other.

  14. It’s my view that people who injure someone while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should be charged with aggravated assault. If they kill someone it should be murder. This is another case where something was drilled into me, (not literally, in this case 🙂 ) by the Army where the penalties for driving while over the limit were fierce; first, it was a disciplinary offence and the fines were steep, second, more often than not, the fine would be accompanied by the suspension of your Army permit to drive which meant, for most soldiers, that you would also lose your ‘trade’ pay, since driving is part of the qualification for most trades – even clerks and cooks, for example.

    That doesn’t mean I’ve never been guilty, though never, by the grace of fortune, in an accident.

  15. Wow, Soutie, that was brave. I made a similar remark in a post sometime ago and received an equally fearsome onslaught form our antipodean friends. So, when I saw this post yesterday, I thought that I would just sit back and watch.

    I think Bearsy’s comment is very significant.
    “Drink driving is socially and culturally unacceptable in Australia. It’s difficult to get away with thanks to RBTs and to your mates dobbing you in. It didn’t used to be that way, but the Aussies grew up.”

    I recall living in the UK in the late 70s and early 80s, when, though it was technically illegal, even the police would give a nod and a wink to a driver who had had too much to drink. As the police got more proactive, people carried on driving under the influence, the trick being to avoid getting caught. It was not until it became socially unacceptable that people stopped doing it. Bravado is one thing, the scorn of your peers is another. That being said, in some more remote parts of the UK, drink driving is much less frowned upon than in others.

    However, Australia is not South Africa. It is certainly a wonderful country with some terrific qualities. But, the ‘dobbing culture’ and the ‘nanny state’ are repulsive to many who have visited the place, or who live there against their will. Trust me, there many who live there against their will, but continue to do so because they have nowhere else to go. I know many people who have left Australia to return to South Africa or Zimbabwe. Now, I do not want to make this an anti-Oz thing because it is not. Clearly far more people have left SA to move to OZ and do so happily, precisely because it is so secure. I am just trying to point out that we do not all like the same things. Some prefer security to adventure, but for others, the reverse is true. I would go back to live in Zimbabwe tomorrow, if I could get the buggers to give me a permit. I am sure that many would think I am mad, but as far as I am concerned, the benefits outweigh the risks.

    Drink driving is still socially acceptable in many communities around South Africa. It is very interesting, especially here in Cape Town, which is frequented by ‘swallows’ during our summer months, how Europeans who would not dream of drink-driving back home, are willing to do so here, despite the fact that the consequences are probably far worse here. A couple of nights in a prison cell in South Africa are enough to scar you for life. It is precisely because it is not frowned upon by their friends that they feel that they can do it.

    There are several reasons for this cavalier attitude to alcohol. SA society is far more fragmented than countries such as Aus. We have a huge underclass who are not able and often unwilling to adhere to even the most basic laws or norms of society. The number of unroadworthy vehicles is overwhelming. I am not simply talking about faulty indicator switches, but vehicles that one might expect to fall apart. Literally. Then you have the drivers of these vehicles who ignore the rules of the road, either driving too fast, or, more often and equally dangerous, too slow. They stop where they should not and over take where they should not. They over load their vehicles with passengers and or cargo. The police do nothing.

    Two examples if horrific accidents, are in the press at the moment. Last year a taxi driver (by taxi I mean a minibus that seats anything from 16 to 24 people, including driver) was in a queue at a rail crossing. He had a load of kids that he was taking to school. He pulled out of the queue and raced to cross the railway track into the oncoming train. 10 children were killed. The driver was sober.

    Last week a taxi licensed for 23 passengers was carrying 35 people. It hit a truck. 30 people were killed. The driver was sober.

    You can read about some of the horror crashes here.

    Everyday you see pick-up trucks (utes, bakkies), loaded with workers, sitting in the back, obviously without seat belts. If the police and government tried to stop this practice, SA would grind to a halt. We do not have the public transport infrastructure and many cannot afford to use that which exists.

    Other hazards include, people running across the motorway. Livestock wandering across the roads, and not just in rural areas either. Badly maintained roads also pose a threat.

    There is a much, much greater risk of being killed on the road by somebody or in circumstances other than by somebody returning from a drink at the pub.

    Drink driving accidents, do of course occur, often with tragic circumstances. However, usually they are a result of inexperience, both in terms of driving and drinking. Amongst white people at least, they generally involve those in their late teens to early 20s. Of course your reactions are impaired by alcohol, but many experienced drivers are safer, even after a few drinks, than other younger but sober drivers.

    The fact of the matter is, that even if South Africans did not drive under the influence, at all, the death toll on our roads would still be extremely high. The net result is that we, as a nation, are less horrified and more immune to the consequences.

    I recall driving with a friend through a suburb of Canberra, back in 2003. There was a sign saying, “High Accident Area. 7 people killed on this stretch of road since 1973”. I laughed. She asked why. I said that in SA, that would be ‘7 people killed since last year’.

    As Soutie points out. Public transport in this country sucks. The distances are great. Residential property sizes are generally speaking far larger than in Australia, thus even the suburbs sprawl. If you want to have any kind of social life you have to drive. And, what is a social life without a drink or 3?

    Boadicea makes a very valid point. ‘There are always choices’. ‘either don’t go out or if you want to go out – then don’t drink.’ Of course there is the other choice.

    One really should not judge a country until one has spent time there and got to know the history, the people and the culture. The introduction of racial conflict was, gratuitous and if I may say so Bearsy, beneath you.

  16. I think there is a great deal of difference drinking and driving in a very sparsely populated rural area where there is virtually nothing on the roads at night and urban areas full of pissed/junked up jaywalking pedestrians.

    As for catching taxis, what a joke, they wouldn’t dream of coming out this far at night! A forty mile round trip!!!! You would have to take a hotel.

    People need to get real and accept things are very different in different parts of the world. All very well when you have a choice of transport and distances are just a few miles.

    As a matter of curiosity I cannot see any connection between drinking and rape. Experience tells me one generally precludes the other!

  17. I am barred from responding Sipu.

    But I must emphasise that I did NOT assert, suggest or otherwise hint that drinking leads to rape. That is a blatant lie.

  18. Thanks for the thoughtful comment Sipu. I wasn’t too sure that there were drink-drive laws in SA – thanks for the information.

    I don’t know whether you ever visited the Northern Territory. When I lived there, some 25 years ago, some trucks were much as you describe them in SA… real beat up monsters, overloaded both with people and goods, and held together with a bit of string and a lot of hope.

    There were drink drive laws, fairly well enforced, and vehicle testing, not so strict especially in rural areas, but no speed limits. The main reason was, I was told, because without transport of some sort most aboriginal communities simply could not function.

    For what it’s worth we also have loads of idiot drivers who try to race the trains to get over level crossings… and plenty of dumb pedestrians who wander over the train lines. An advert on the railway station reckons about 700 people get injured each year in Queensland.

  19. In my opinion it’s first world ideals clashing head on with third world practicalities. It was the “DON’T DO IT remark in the post that made me want to post an alternative view.

    I’ve written often about the modernization of South Africa, the Gautrain, our wonderful new sports stadium etc.

    Life here for most hasn’t changed much at the grass roots level over the past 20 years, we’ll get there in the end but in the meantime?

  20. “That doesn’t mean I’ve never been guilty, though never, by the grace of fortune, in an accident.”

    Yep, Bravo, absolutely.

    I agree with Christina, Soutie and Sipu, there is a world of difference between rural areas, urban centres and different parts of the world.

    One should not judge.

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