Friday, January 28, 2011

Door knocks after midnight

I have a new TV show up and running,Let's Talk", running weekly on Stratos TV, 5pm Mondays. Haven't had time yet to put a clip from it up on YouTube but here's a chunk of script I used in the show. It's something I really wanted to say...

After yet another horrendous car crash last weekend, killing two teenage boys, maiming two more and also killing a man who had the terrible luck to be in the way, all of us must be asking ourselves if there isn’t more we can do to stop this happening so often.

It was, as usual, all about booze, speed and bad driving and the kids who died were just 16 and 17. The man in the other car, who was 45, was on his way home after work to his wife and three kids.

Once again we’ve seen the ripped up cars at the roadside, so totalled they look like a monster has torn them apart.

We’ve seen pictures of shocked relatives clinging to each other. We’ve heard again how it looked like a war zone.

And a police sergeant told a reporter how he’d had to knock on the doors of four separate sets of parents and the wife of a dead man in the middle of the night, to deliver the bad news.

A friend of mine who was a police officer once told me how that feels – to stand at a door with your fist up, knuckles ready to go, hearing calm and happy sounds or peaceful silence inside and knowing that in just a moment you will blow these people’s lives apart.

We still don’t have it right, it seems, when it comes to tragedies like this. The license age is still too low, the drinking age is still too low, driving skills aren’t good, and of course you can never underestimate the desire in teenagers for the sheer thrill of speed, no matter how often parents say ‘drive carefully’.

Apparently there was a beer box and alcopop cans littering the scene of the last disaster… and that’s something we can at least try to get right. In California they have a simple rule about alcohol and vehicles. Having any drink inside the car at all, whether opened or unopened, is forbidden. If you’re carrying booze it has be out of reach, locked in the rear compartment.

We can’t tell what happened in that car at Waihi but over and over again we hear of accidents where booze was being knocked back even as drivers and passengers rode to oblivion. We can’t stop people drinking either before they get behind the wheel.

But at least we could do more to discourage anyone from drinking while the car’s in motion, and thus cut down the yahooing and the egging on. It’s such a simple idea. And wouldn’t it be worth if it at least it prevents just one more family from hearing that knock on the door after midnight?

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