Thursday, July 16, 2009

Drunks on four wheels vs. drunks on two

Motorcycle riders were more than twice as likely as passenger vehicle drivers to be drunk , according to the latest national survey by U.S. safety officials. The study found that 5.6 percent of riders are drunk, while "only" 2.3 percent of passenger car drivers are drunk.

Martin Zimmerman of Tribune Newspapers reports that the survey was conducted in 2007 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 300 locations around the U.S. Drivers and riders were randomly directed into the survey site by police officers. Alcohol and drug tests were administered by non-law-enforcement personnel.

Participation was voluntary and anonymous. Those who refused to participate were evaluated by NHTSA interviewers trained to detect impairment. Those found to be under the influence weren’t arrested. Instead, they were offered a number of options to keep them off the road until they sobered up, including a hotel.

Of course, percentages are one thing, raw numbers are another. There are far more drunk drivers than riders on the road and they are a bigger menace by about a ton and a half. But is that any excuse? Nevermind the danger to others, you have your own life to consider as a rider, and no crash structure to fall back on.

No point my giving a lecture on this; no one would listen and I am no one to talk, although I won't take a drink if I'm on the bike.

I'm just interested: you guys really do this? How?

Oh, I know, an old time rider once recounted how he'd cruise alongside the bike that was carrying the beer and without stopping help himself to a bottle from the saddlebags. He'd tuck the bottle into his belt when he wasn't sipping. It was an inspiring story, except he now walked like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz. Life catches up to you.

Driving a car is one thing, and we all know we shouldn't risk that after drinking, either. But at least cars have four wheels.

However you look at it, the survey does not enhance the image of motorcyclists. This may hurt your pride: pickup truck drivers were the next most likely to have illegal blood-alcohol levels.

1 comment:

  1. What really strikes me is that those people are taking risks that can involve an innocent person that didn't make that choice to drink and drive and may pay heavily because of someone else's decision to drive while intoxicated.


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