By KATE WALTHER
I tend to get prickly when people joke about having a few beers then jumping in the car and driving, avoiding main roads on their way home in the hope of averting the RBT units (Random Breath Testing) they know are out there.
It really irritates me when I hear a traffic report which includes a list of booze buses and speed cameras to steer clear of. I even get annoyed when people tell me they drive 10 kilometres over the speed limit on default – ‘after all, who’s it really hurting?’ they ask.
I get angry about these things because I know the damage it can cause – the utter devastation, helplessness and darkness that these decisions can bring.
Three years ago the lives of my family were changed forever by a drunk driver – when he killed my cousin. The driver was high on meth amphetamines and marijuana and had been drinking as well. He drove for almost 36 hours before falling asleep at the wheel at 7am on a Monday morning and drifted into my cousin’s car head on.
In that moment he destroyed many lives – including my cousin’s partner, her mother, her father and her brothers. The driver’s choices had consequences, most of which had no bearing on him. He made a decision to get high. Then he made a decision to drink alcohol. Then he made a decision to get in a car and drive. And then he decided to keep driving past the point of exhaustion. Ultimately these decisions cost my cousin her life.
My cousin was a 24-year-old, who had recently bought a flat with her boyfriend, landed her dream job in fashion, and had her whole life to look forward to.
The driver got 11 months in jail for taking it all away. Eleven months.
This man put her family through more than a year of court appearances, in each one asking for more time to prepare his case. He jumped bail. He showed absolutely no remorse for his actions, there were almost no consequences for him.
Her family bears the brunt of his actions forever.
And that is why I never touch a drop of alcohol if I need to drive.
I hear you say, ‘Oh, but I would never do that! I’m not a drug addict. I only drink a little bit if I drive…it would never happen to me.” But the point is, you really don’t know how much illicit or mind altering substances, (alcohol included), affect your reflexes and decision making.