As a child growing up in Scotland, I often heard a familiar phrase that something or other ‘is not big or clever.’
Usually the thing being attacked was indeed so, not that I agreed with that statement at the time, normally being uttered by my mother who is 71 years young today.
Youthful bravado or showing off to your friends is one thing, though, but trying to attract attention and the respect of your peers can be deadly – take drink-driving for example.
I recall a number of my friends who, as soon as they turned 17, wanted to pass their test and buy or procure a car as a parental gift.
Often groups of four or five of us would travel around nearby and far afield having fun and doing the usual young guys’ stuff, but I don’t remember my friends being drunk behind the wheel.
Then again, sometimes you don’t know.
One guy could have one pint of beer and be incapable of controlling a vehicle, another guy could have four or five beers and be fine behind the wheel.
There is no set rule on who can control what under the influence of how many.
I was heartened to see the recent news that the National Traffic Safety Committee has launched a three-month campaign to tighten control over the levels of alcohol motorcyclists and car owners alike can consume whilst driving.
There will even be breath tests or breath alcohol concentration calculators to see who ‘is over the limit,’ which is great news and about time too.
Now, instead of having a debate over how much they consume, what is acceptable and how much they will be fined if they do not adhere to these regulations, common sense should just prevail.
If you are going to drink don’t drive, whether it is one beer or two or whatever.
Just ask a friend to take care of you, get a motorbike or car taxi and go home safe and sound. It is simple logic.
Just don’t do it.
If you are in charge of any vehicle, even a bicycle, don’t drink or it could be your last.
Hồ Chí Minh City is not a city where traffic mistakes go unpunished often.
The streets are dangerous enough without throwing into the equation a lot of drunk people toing and froing across the road, trying to ride in a straight line.
It is bad enough riding a motorbike, but living in this city has put me off driving a car for life, and that is just watching people drive and getting stressed to the max.
Taking a step back, yes my teenage years were safe enough with friends being responsible.
However, in my early twenties a group of friends and I were at a party less than 1km from our homes.
We were having a lot of drinks and a lot of fun, and were fully intending to walk the short journey home.
That was until another friend arrived late in his car.
He ‘looked fine’ and said he hadn’t been drinking, and had been playing football and driving around.
Due to our inebriated state, we accepted his offer of a lift as the rain had started coming down heavily.
The weather in Scotland is called dreich (miserable) for a reason.
So, we are in the car and our apparent sober friend was flying down the main street at about 60km per hour, I was in the passenger seat and told him to calm down.
He was like a madman, totally unlike his normal laid-back self.
I told him to stop and we were getting out, he just shook his head.
He was in total control.
I finally put my seat-belt on, not realizing the significance of that simple, two second action.
He slowed down as we were now in a residential area, and I relaxed a little before he zoomed into action once more, hitting 70km in a road designated for 20 or 30km tops – bang.
The car jumped over a small hill, then skidded into a group of cars sitting parked near their owners’ homes.
I amazingly didn’t even have a scratch but I knew for a fact that no belt would have meant my mother and father would not have seen their son again.
The belt saved my life.
The driver got out and ran away leaving us to deal with the mess.
Three people in the back seat, two of which were okay but the other had some cuts and bruises at the bottom of his legs due to the impact.
It was a miracle that no-one died.
I looked around and saw some lights going on around the neighborhood, awoken by the loud crash, no doubt.
I went to find the driver and surely he would call the police or someone to sort this mess out, but of course he was so drunk he knew he was in big trouble, so he went home and was going to cobble together a story that someone had stolen his car before a stern word from his father and the call was made.
He was lucky to avoid jail and fortunately his insurance would cover the damaged cars, his and three others.
Two were right-offs.
He escaped with a three-year driving ban which I suppose was a good punishment, for he loved cars and he did stop drinking for a while.
It was so out of character for him.
The nicest guy you could ever meet.
That is the thing about drink-driving, if the good guys are doing it…
Now in the UK there are always these types of campaigns and it is great to see Việt Nam is following suit with its slogans of ‘Don’t drive after drinking’ and ‘Driving under the influence of alcohol – High cost to pay.’
The campaign kicked off on October 1 and finishes up at the end of the year.
It would like to think that the visual campaign could make people think before making a decision which could spell the end of not only their life but also their loved ones.
There is nothing big or clever about that.