Saturday, March 3, 2012

Abolish R.I.D.E.

The "Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere" (R.I.D.E.) program, which started in Etobicoke, Ontario in 1977 has grown to mammoth proportions. In short the program consists of local bulletproof clad police squads armed to their teeth setting up shop in downtown areas and highway on-ramps checking drivers for alcohol induced impairment. Until recently, R.I.D.E. was practiced only on holiday weekends and the Christmas season, and it was somewhat reasonable: check-points were set for outbound traffic in the most heavily trafficked areas. In more recent times, the program has taken a completely idiotic turn, as check points on highway off-ramps have began to spring up on rather random nights; while the legal impairment limit has been reduced to an unreasonably low 0.05. If the objective of the program is to prevent impaired, unsafe driving, it is difficult to see the effectiveness of it when it purports to catch drivers who have already safely driven to and down the highway. Clearly, we cannot take the word of the Police on its face that its' objective is to protect the public; rather a more sensible explanation for their action is that there is little more than a financial goal behind it.

For, if safety were the true objective, it can be achieved much more cheaply and effectively. Rather than turning downtown areas and highways into war zones, the concerned city leaders ought to provide for the true problem at hand: the lack of available transportation. To the great shock of busybodies, people are not stupid nor do they have desires to put their own lives in danger; they are just left with no choice. Indeed, the city owned transit system shuts down long before the bar curfew. In fact, before most people even make it out to the bars. At the same time the taxi licensing regime in place gives rise to a shortage of private providers of mass transportation. Licensed taxis are hard to come by, since there is a lack of inducement for them to put extra cars on the road (an understandable action on their part, since this capital investment will not be self-liquidating due to the lack of daytime business). Yet, much cheaper and equally reliable "gypsy cab" service providers have been a target of the law enforcement authorities for as long as I have lived in this province (11 years). For this reason, even if they do have cars available, one cannot know, since advertizing for them is a way of self-sabotage.

Therefore, if the goal is to improve safety and protect the local population from drunk driving, abolish this trauma inducing ugliness called R.I.D.E., which is easily circumnavigated by bypassing the "usual spots" anyway, and allow for a better late-night transportation system to develop. Rather than paying exorbitant overtime salaries to police officers and tying up their crime solving resources for babysitting activities, make provisions for something to the effect of late night, part-time taxi licenses; and extend the hours of certain city bus routes; and stop ruining my enjoyment with your nightmarish flashing "cherrytops"! Such a solution would not only increase safety, but it will provide additional incomes for people ready to render actual and desired service; while at the same time bar revenues are sure to go up as the necessity of the Designated Driver is rendered no more.

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