In need of new men­tal­ity

The Compass - - OPINION - — Nicholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass and writes from Bay Roberts.

If you pe­rused the on­line docket for provin­cial court in Har­bour Grace last week, you would have seen as many as eight driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ences cases be­ing heard. That seems a lit­tle high doesn’t it? Sure, it does. But, from con­ver­sa­tions with mem­bers of the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion RCMP, it is just the norm. What does that say about our men­tal­ity? Imag­ine, eight drunk driv­ing cases is not un­usual to see in this area.

In fact, it is not un­usual in any part of the coun­try to find driv­ers un­der the in­flu­ence.

A Statis­tics Canada study re­leased in 2011 found that the num­ber of drunk driv­ers was up by two per cent over the pre­vi­ous year. That marked the fourth such in­crease in five years. It is stag­ger­ing when you think about it. Those aren’t large num­bers, but they’re large enough to be trou­ble­some.

Even with the at­ten­tion paid to the prob­lem by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driv­ing) and other groups of that na­ture, peo­ple are still choos­ing to get be­hind the wheel af­ter they’ve been drink­ing. Peo­ple aren’t learn­ing. A cou­ple of weeks ago, a Par­adise man was in­volved in his third al­co­hol-re­lated ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent. His third! You’d think that af­ter his first, he’d re­al­ize it was a bad idea to put the key in the ig­ni­tion.

But, it speaks to a prob­lem in so­ci­ety. We just aren’t learn­ing.

How many ac­ci­dents or deaths re­lated to ac­ci­dents will it take be­fore we stop tak­ing the risk?

One pos­i­tive, if you can call it that, taken from the re­port is that the num­ber of al­co­hol-re­lated deaths in ac­ci­dents is the low­est in 25 years. Is that some­thing we should be ap­plaud­ing? Sure, less peo­ple are dy­ing, but at the same time, more peo­ple are com­mit­ting the crime. Is that re­ally progress? Po­lice are work­ing hard to quell the prob­lem. In 2011, po­lice coun­try-wide ap­pre­hended 90,000 drunk driv­ers in 2011, which is up 3,000 from 2010 ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics Canada.

So, here why it’s a great thing that there were eight such cases heard in Har­bour Grace.

It means the of­fi­cers of the RCMP in this re­gion are mak­ing a con­certed ef­fort to crack down on the of­fend­ers. It means their dili­gence is start­ing to pay off. Now, if only the rest of the pop­u­lace would catch on. It’s been a law since 1951 when Canada amended its crim­i­nal code to make it il­le­gal to op­er­ate a mo­tor ve­hi­cle when un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol or drugs. So, why has it taken so long for it to catch on? It’s like we don’t care about the safety of oth­ers on the road.

Our ig­no­rance of the law says we’d rather have a good time and drive our ve­hi­cle home than take a taxi or some other al­ter­nate means of travel.

And, it’s not just young peo­ple who are com­mit­ting the of­fense. It’s across the board. Men and women of all ages are choos­ing to put their lives and the lives of oth­ers in dan­ger.

We need to take a look in the mir­ror as a so­ci­ety as a whole.

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