THE DRINK DRIVING EPIDEMIC IN MALTA

It was a friend on Facebook who reminded me of something I was thinking of writing some time ago. She shall remain nameless, but her recollection of being woken at 1.30am and witnessing something rather dumbfounding, relates rather closely to some of my own experiences. To keep her recollection brief, she was woken by the sound of a blaring car horn. And a commotion in the street below. The driver of a car was unconscious in the middle of the street. He was slumped in the drivers seat, and there was concern for his well being. After 20 minutes, and police intervention, he was awoken. At which point it became immediately apparent he had been drink driving, and passed out at the wheel.

It reminded me of my own crazy observation of drink driving some five or six years ago. I was out late, working, as goes with the territory of being a DJ.  As I made my way home, I came across something I will never forget. Coming up a hill as I headed from Attard towards Zebbug I arrived at a very large cloud of smoke.  Not knowing exactly what it was, I approached with caution. As I drove through, I was shocked to see that a car had climbed a centre strip, hit a pole, and was trying to drive through the pole. When I say he was trying to drive through the pole, I mean the drivers foot was slammed down on the accelerator and his wheels were spinning and burning rubber. The guy was obviously off his face.

He was so wasted, he could not even make the common sense decision to put the car in “reverse”. It was crazy. I notified the authorities and went on my way. I did not want to be anywhere near this lunatic. This was not the first time I had witnessed a display of madness brought on by someones obvious excessive drink driving either. And I am pretty sure that everyone who takes the time to read this blog will have their own stories to tell.

Drink driving has been an epidemic in Malta for as long as I have been here. Because, quite simply, there are no repercussions. The argument of enforcement is for another blog altogether. But realistically, the resources are not there to maintain effective control. Simple as that. There should be, but there isn’t. So I guess people feel they can get away with it. But should that be the justification for anyone to go ahead and drink drive? Just because they can get away with it?

Now, I am no saint. And I would be lying if I said I hadn’t done it in the past. To be quite honest, I am ashamed of it. It took me time to realise that not only am I putting myself and others in grave danger, but I am also setting a terrible example for others. And most importantly, my children. I did not want to be that guy. So I made a conscious decision some time ago to never go drink driving ever again. And I realise now how lucky I am that nothing serious ever happened as a result. One of the best decision’s I have ever made.

But why is it, that so many others can not make the same choice here in Malta? Can people not realise that the consequence of being caught is not the only “consequence” they may face? Can they not understand that everytime they take the wheel, drunk, they put themselves and others in serious danger?

I base my next statements not on any actual fact or figures. I have just made my own deductions based upon the information I know, and have received over the years. To me, it is no coincidence that the majority of fatal car accidents here in Malta happen between the hours of midnight and 5am. I am not saying its all of them, but an uncanny amount seem to happen between those hours. And my gut tells me that a lot of them would be as a result of drink driving.

It always surprised me as well that in a great deal of situations, you will read the words “the driver lost control of his car” when reading the news after a serious accident. How does this happen? I don’t get it. The only thing that I can think of is that people go out partying and take their car. At some stage, usually early in the morning, when they are “trashed” they decide its time to go home and jump in the car. Feeling full of confidence and bravado, perhaps one or more Fast and Furious movies in the subconscious, they decide to drive home like assholes. And the result, with impaired vision and thinking, is a loss of control and a tragedy. What a frikkin waste.

If you are one of those persons who currently partake in drink driving, these next messages are for you. Stop it now god damn it. Don’t be so bloody stupid. The hassle of picking up your car the next day, or not wanting to pay for a taxi, should never be worth risking your life. Or anyone else’s for that matter. Just get a taxi. Simple as that. Or if you really do need to be money cautious, then take a bus there and just get a taxi home. That is what I do when possible. Whilst we all know the public transport system is not perfect here in Malta, it is certainly worth using in these particular instances. It’s a better option that having your lifeless and broken corpse removed from what used to be your car.

It is a terrible epidemic here in Malta, drink driving. I see it all the time. It has always been a part of the culture, and not a good part. We really need to stamp it out once and for all. They only way we can do this is by each of us being responsible for ourselves. We must all choose to no longer drink and drive. And we must encourage, rather forcefully, people we know, to do the same. At the top of this article there is the option to share. Please do. You never know, you maybe saving a life. And what’s even more crazy is, it may be your own.

 

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