Friday 7 May 2010

Walking while drunk [updated]

It would be interesting to know how such a survey here would fare. Judging by the letters page at The Press, I'd expect to be rather depressed. Writes Adelaide NOW:
ADELAIDE NOW readers are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of pedestrians being breath-tested, as suggested by an University of Adelaide study.

At 1pm, 82 per cent of 963 poll votes rejected the idea, with a mere 18 per cent supporting it.

While many commenters simply cried "nanny state", some had valid arguments against pedestrian breath-testing.

Yeti of Dulwich spoke for many readers who were tired of being kept on a tight leash.

"What next? Personal government chaperones every time we want to have a drink? As horrendous as pedestrian road deaths are, just as abhorrent is government intervention into every part of our lives," he wrote.


The readers were reacting to a study which found random breath testing of pedestrians would be the most effective way to stop them being killed and maimed on the roads.

The University of Adelaide study found the public could support a blood alcohol limit of 0.15 when near roads and vehicles if it saved some of approximately 10 drink-walking pedestrians who die each year on SA roads.

Researchers studied ways of stopping the problem, which would all be "limited" in their success except for enforcement of a blood alcohol level in people walking near traffic.

Commissioned by the Motor Accident Commission, the research was published in this month's Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine.

Study author and Centre for Automotive Safety Research senior research fellow Paul Hutchinson said the measure would be very controversial to implement but public opinion was already turning against displays of public drunkenness and a blood alcohol limit of 0.15 could be accepted.

"Public opinion does change over time and people don't like drunks rolling about the streets and 0.15 is an alcohol content that most people would not reach, certainly in public," he said.

"As one public health advocate put it, we have a blood alcohol limit for driving, why not for people walking next to traffic. People already have the power to take into protective custody drunk people who are a danger to their or others' safety."
The healthists will not be satisfied until alcohol is only available under prescription and doctor's supervision. I'm not joking. We asymptote towards their ideal point with every compromise between the status quo and their latest proposal.

HT: Luke Malpass

Update: Egads! Duncan points out in comments that there's even a campaign for sidewalk pedestrian breathalizers with a 0.08 limit. Presumably that's setting the stage for the reduction in the limit should 0.15 ever be adopted.

Again, I wasn't kidding: the healthists are dead serious in considering alcohol to be on par with Class B drugs and will not be happy until it is regulated as such.


  1. And then they will want to come into your home with their breathalysers because we know the cause of too many home fires.

  2. I can't believe 18% of Australians thought this was a good idea! I wonder how the question was phrased. But the wowsers in Australia appear to be alive and well, have a look at and shudder.

  3. @Duncan Shudder is right. Ye gads, that is just plain scary. Where do these people come from?

  4. The difference is that drunk drivers kill other people, drunk pedestrians kill only themselves. If drunk drivers only killed themselves, we should also get rid of restrictions on them.

  5. @PaulL: I suppose you could make the argument that drivers swerving to avoid drunk pedestrians also can wind up as victims, but it would be a stretch to get high aggregate external costs from it.