Dave Reid
Car Culture

You’ll Never Drive Drunk If…

By - Mar 19th, 2009 11:39 am
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St. Patrick’s Day is always one of my favorite days of the year, though often the day after is one of my least favorite, because everybody comes out and has a good time.  It seems as if Milwaukee comes out of hibernation on this day, and the streets are bustling with people.  But it also reminds me that everyday somebody says “I think I can drive.”  I don’t need the news to tell me that people jumped in their cars on St. Patrick’s Day who had no business driving, I’m sure some did.

This is terrible and to make matters worse it is a completely avoidable problem.

Recent high profile drunk driving incidents have spurred a lot of discussion championing tougher penalties.  Generally speaking I don’t have a problem with making the penalties for driving drunk stiffer and I’m sure by doing so that can reduce the number of drunk drivers.  Further, there is no doubt that guys like Mark Benson need to be behind bars or institutionalized so tougher laws could be of assistance.  But I believe there are factors beyond how tougher or weak Wisconsin’s law are that play a role in this problem.  In the past I discussed how our culture and some of our zoning laws actually encourage drunk driving, so I have a suggestion that will allow you to never drive drunk.

This solution is often is hinted at when for example on St. Patrick’s Day the Milwaukee County Transit System offers free bus service.  What this says is that the solution to drunk driving is to eliminate the driving.  I know it’s crazy, but if you live in a walkable mixed-use neighborhood there is no need to drive when you go out on the town.  Neighborhoods like East Town, the East Side, Bay View, and Riverwest to name just a few all offer the advantage of being able to walk to your corner tavern.  It’s not to say that people who live in the city don’t drive drunk, there are surly people who do, but when you can walk a couple of blocks to the tavern you’ll never be the person saying “I think I can drive.”

It’s simple really.  You’ll never drive drunk if you don’t drive.  So live in a neighborhood where you can go out and get home safely without a car.  And if you can’t do that, please, at least take a cab.

Categories: Car Culture

6 thoughts on “Car Culture: You’ll Never Drive Drunk If…”

  1. MilwaukeeD says:

    How about only allowing liquor licenses for places within a 1-mile of a transit stop? Rural Wisconsin would hate that, but it would help solve the problem…if that’s really the goal. Not sure if the J-S has offered any great solutions so far, other than make the penalties worse. I totally agree with what you are saying though…too often the “Don’t Drink and Drive” campaigns turn into “Don’t Drink”, but they rarely address “Don’t Drive”.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @MilwaukeeD Yea I wasn’t suggesting any new legislation, but that if someone wants to personally insure they won’t drive drunk they should live in a walkable mixed-use neighborhood.

  3. Rob says:

    Good point, Dave.

    I think the best way to change our mentality about drunk driving is to make alternate transit more of an option for people. St. Patrick’s Day and other free transit days have a huge surge in ridership, but when someone’s forced to pay $4 round-trip for a bus ride any other day, it’s not worth it to them. Either we need to lower the bus fare or make the alternative consequences of driving drunk more costly so that people find value in transit.

  4. Michael Clausing says:

    I for one took the bus and cab on St. Patrick’s Day. It doesn’t really bother me as I take the bus almost every day to UWM anyway. The only real problem I see with depending on the bus is the time it stops at. They generally stop picking up around 12:30 which is normally way before I would like to leave. It may not seem like a big deal, but I could see this stopping many from using the service in the first place. $4 is not much for a round trip, but it adds up when you’re forced to take a cab back instead.

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @Michael I agree transit service needs to run after bar time.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    We definitely need to make transit more widely available and affordable (numerous reasons). And it is really easy if you live in a walkable neighborhood to avoid getting in a car at all.

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