Stop accidental terrorism, too
October 12 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Stop accidental terrorism, too | Friday, Oct. 12, 2001

Friday, Oct. 12, 2001

Stop accidental terrorism, too

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor I couldn't help but notice the irony in figures released on Sept. 24 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). After a 20-year decline, the number of fatalities caused by drunk drivers shot dramatically upward in 2000. A total of 16,653 people were killed in violent, brutal crashes that were caused by drunk drivers. You talk about terror.

People who choose to drink alcohol or take illicit drugs and then point their car or truck down the highway may not be intentional terrorists, but they could certainly be called accidental terrorists.

Folks like me who are fortunate enough to survive the assault of a drunken driver (though my daughter didn't) know something about terror. We know how hard it is to get back in the car and drive down a two-lane road where cars speed past in the opposite direction, just a few feet away. It's not just people with Middle-Eastern accents we mistrust, but every other driver on the road.

When intentional terrorists drove hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and a rural Pennsylvania field, they killed about 5,000 innocent people, by the latest count, in brutal fashion. The people of America expressed immediate outrage and the country went to war. Billions of dollars and millions of man-hours will be invested in rooting out terrorism. Anxious to do something, tenderhearted people raised more than $840 million for the victims' families in less than a month.

I'm not criticizing that.

But, when accidental terrorists killed more than three times that number of equally innocent victims - and in equally violent, sometimes fiery fashion - hardly a whimper was heard.

No one raises a cry for the nation to do what it takes to root out accidental terrorists and the powerful alcohol industry that harbors and encourages them.

No one promotes a nationwide campaign to assist surviving family members or others who were injured by impaired drivers.

I am criticizing that.

The victims of accidental terrorists don't make the national news. They show up in the local papers, spread across the country, so most people are entirely unaware of the scope of the problem. Many others don't want to know.

If the bodies of the dead, the wheelchairs of the injured and the twisted vehicles resulting from accidental terrorism were piled together in the shape of a skyscraper, would that get any attention?

Many states have passed stricter drunk driving laws, but that hasn't solved the problem. People who are already drunk and no longer thinking clearly pay no more attention to the law than does Osama bin Laden.

The root of the problem is the rich and powerful alcohol industry, almost invulnerable because of its political connections, influential lobby and built-in government protection.

You can sue cigarette companies for misleading the public, getting people hooked and killing them with toxic smoke. But government regulations don't allow lawsuits against beer and liquor companies for misleading the same people, getting them addicted to alcohol, ruining their lives and leaving untold pain and suffering in their wake.

That's what the lawyers tell me, at least. I'd like for someone to prove otherwise.

We should invest the money to line up police cars outside of every bar or event that promotes drinking, and stop every driver that appears in any way impaired - and change the laws so that it can't be called "entrapment."

I doubt that prohibition will ever fly again, but we must, at the very least, make alcohol companies just as responsible for the damage caused by their products as are the companies that make toys and tires.

And we should do it now.

It's not the tiny cadre of intentional terrorists among us that I worry about.

It's the multitude of accidental terrorists that pilot speeding car bombs down the same roads we travel every day.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
10/12/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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