Saturday, 8 May 2010

Don't drink and walk

I’ve read that more than two-fifths of adult pedestrians killed in road accidents are above the legal alcohol limit for driving. Between the hours of 10 pm and 4 am, the proportion rises to over 80%. Clearly pedestrians under the influence are putting themselves at serious risk.

So the Australians are proposing to address this problem by introducing a drink-walking limit for pedestrians of 150 mg – approximately twice the current British drink-driving limit. In practice, taking into account the absorption of alcohol over time, this would mean you might be at risk of falling foul of the law if you’d consumed five or six pints.

It is not currently illegal to be drunk in public in this country, so long as you are not disorderly with it, but this could introduce a clearly-defined strict liability threshold of what was considered acceptable in public places.

Of course such a thing is never going to happen in reality, is it? Oh yes, just like they said about the blanket smoking ban...

(h/t to Dick Puddlecote for bringing this to my attention)


  1. I was once nearly run over twice in about 10 seconds after a night in the pub. I was crossing a wide side street when a car well over the limit steered into that side street without indicating. I jumped out of the way and avoided being knocked over. A couple of seconds later the exact same thing happened with a car from the other direction. Both were speeding, neither indicated and neither showed any sign of having noticed me, and as I'm 6' 2", that takes some doing.

    I reckon they were both drunk drivers. Some of the pedestrians in your stats probably weren't to blame, especially as it's very easy to drive drunk and not be caught.

  2. (Red Nev)
    You assumed they were drunk drivers
    Can I assume anyone getting knocked down by a sober driver ,
    is a drinker.
    For Health and Safety's sake lets
    put a 2 pint limit on everyone out in public,its bound to save lives and make our towns more family friendly.For added safety lets get
    the police to breathalyse far more
    6 am to 10 am and 3 pm to 6 pm,I'me sure most of those so concerned about our health and wellbeing would aggree.

    Hebden Bridge NHS Trust

  3. I'm sure you're familiar with the medical acronym PAF - pissed and fell. I keep hearing it vaguely mooted (mainly by disgruntled A&E staff) that people who injure themselves while drunk should pay for any medical treatment they need. What's your take on that?

  4. If you start charging people for injuries or medical conditions that can be regarded as their fault, it opens up a slippery slope. And what about people who didn't have the means to pay? Would they be left untreated?

  5. Congratulations Anon for stating the obvious ~ yes , I did assume they were drunk drivers. Either that, or they were sober and driving in a very dangerous manner near Southport town centre at around midnight at the weekend.

    The rest of your comment is unclear, as usual.

    What angered me, once I'd got over the shock of nearly being knocked over twice in a few seconds, was that if I'd been found dead in the road, it would have been wrongly assumed that I was at fault because I'd had a few pints. That is the point I was making.

  6. So the nanny state should pick up the pieces, but not proscribe certain behaviours?

  7. I think it was Jasper Carrot who first used the line 'I had to drive home from the pub last night. I was in no fit state to walk'.

    Joking aside, the Curmudgeon is right. The smoking ban started with the fake 'second-hand smoke' risks and is approaching everyone's own home now. 'Drunk in public' will be defined by an empty suit somewhere, you will get breathalysed if you trip over a paving slab, council jobsworths will fine you because they can 'smell alcohol on your breath' and soon you will hear 'No level of exposure is safe'.

    Then, you cannot leave the house with any detectable alcohol in your system. If you turn up for a job interview and fail a blood test, you don't get the job.

    Then there will be calls to ban alcohol consumption in the home (but never the sale of alcohol - how else will they fine you?) for the sake of the children.

    Can't happen? It already has.

    Ask a smoker.

  8. "I’ve read that more than two-fifths of adult pedestrians killed in road accidents are above the legal alcohol limit for driving. Between the hours of 10 pm and 4 am, the proportion rises to over 80%. Clearly pedestrians under the influence are putting themselves at serious risk."

    Clearly, schmearly. The evidence adduced proves nothing of the sort. Proves nothing at all, in fact.

  9. Brian, I know - did you not detect a hint of irony there?

  10. ZakAvery: "So the nanny state should pick up the pieces, but not proscribe certain behaviours?"

    If we are to have an all-encompassing NHS from which we can't opt out, then the state should also not be able to opt out of giving care for legal pastimes or behaviours. Simple.

    As for proscribing behaviours, the same applies. The state should not use coercion to force people to live as government decides by using a compulsory scheme as the justification. That's called a dictatorship.

    Doing as you describe is the best argument for a private health service.

    Additionally, it's undeniable that healthy people cost the NHS far moe than those who live so-called 'unhealthy' lives. It has been proven time and time again, so the cost to the NHS justification is a massive red herring.

  11. And should the State even be able to opt out of giving care for medical problems resulting from illegal behaviours? Should it refuse treatment, for example, to drug addicts who have overdosed?

    Even if we were to move to a primarily insurance-based health system, the State (or charities) would have to act as a carer of last resort for the uninsured - and it's likely that a high proportion of those who end up in A&E after a drunken fight or fall on Saturday night are people of little means.

  12. Sorry, Curmudgeon. Irony detector in need of recalibration.

    Although perhaps this weekend, of all weekends, wasn't a good time to try that rhetorical device.

  13. Once a code of behaviour is introduced to ration health care on the basis of how far you put yourself at risk, you'd have to exclude, in addition to drinkers and smokers, mountain climbers, potholers, sailors, rugby players, boxers, bikers, and so on. And how about people who overeat or get skin cancer through excessive sun tanning? I'm sure we could all come up with loads more examples.

    Let's just keep the NHS for those who live a risk-free life. But then, if that tedious lifestyle produces mental problems through sensory deprivation and utter boredom, they too have brought it on themselves, haven't they?

  14. I think your informant, Dick Puddlecote was having a lend of you there and pulling your coated dicky.

    There isn't a parliament in any state in Australia that would pull a stunt like that. They're all filled with piss-pot pollies. Who, when they're not diddling their staff are found lurching in the gutter outside 'Gay Bars'.


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