Monday, November 07, 2005

44,234 Casaulties Since the Beginning of the War in Iraq...

...and that's just from alcohol related fatalities on our nation's highways. Alcohol's contribution to traffic fatalities has shown some improvement since the early 1980s, now we're down to a trifling 40% chance your killer was a wee tipsy.

Sorry for the ambush, but if 2,000 American deaths in two+ years are provocative, why is it business as usual when alcohol bangs out that many in under two months? Without alcohol's sizable contribution, traffic fatalities wouldn't be the leading cause of death for those under 35.

(Haven't found statistics yet on the typical severity of non-fatal accidents, but I'm not expecting it to be cheery).

As consolation to those injured, the drunk drivers responsible for serious injuries on our nation's highways usually drive without insurance, preventing recovery for the injured or killed. As if this wasn't bad enough, the insurance companies constantly fight for "tort reform" to dodge the costs of this enormous societal problem.


Prohibition is a non-starter: it's unworkable, and tends to punish all those who enjoy alcohol responsibly to stop the paltry millions who cannot. And drunk drivers aren't the most law-abiding citizens anyway, so this might not solve anything. So what else can be done?

Even if we can't easily reduce the fatalities and injuries, is there a way to compensate more justly? To "internalize the costs" of drinking and driving?

Our solution for workers' compensation is illuminating. The sums are far smaller than at court, but the chance of recovery is significantly higher. This means the system pays about the same as a tort system, it's just less of a lottery. We don't have the man who loses his livelihood and gets nothing, nor the man who gets a couple of scratches and becomes a millionaire for pain and sufferring (to whatever extent that actually happened).

So why don't we just have a serious tax on alcohol and allow complete but fair recovery out of this general fund for anyone injured or killed by our favorite deadly national pastime?