Golf Carts and Drunk-Driving Hours

I don’t see the problem with this:

A South Milwaukee man was accused of driving drunk after trying to use a golf cart to drive home nearly 40 miles away from the golf course where he had been drinking beer.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Department said in a release Monday that the 47-year-old man told deputies his relatives had left him behind at the Kettle Hills Golf Course in Richfield Saturday.

So, he got in a golf cart and headed for home on Highway 167.

Someone called the sheriff’s department to report an intoxicated man on a golf cart driving on the highway. Deputies caught up with the man about a mile from the golf course.

He told investigators he had consumed 10 beers, but didn’t think he was intoxicated.

Golf carts seem like a great way for drunk people to get around – they can’t go very fast, and won’t do much damage in a collision. I don’t think driving drunk is a generally a good idea and it’s not something I do myself, but most folks’ opposition to it seems almost religious. If there are ways of driving drunk without imposing risks on unwilling bystanders, I’d be all for them.

Golf carts are one way, but I think there’s a better way. My idea would be to have well-publicized drunk driving hours. Don’t punish drunk drivers during specified times – when there are many people wanting to get home from the pub, but few people driving around for other reasons. If it’s only drunk people, or people willing to take the risk of being hit by a drunk, on the road during this time, it seems like an implicit acceptance of the risk. This would inconvenience the risk-averse non-drinking night owl slightly, but it would save many drunken walks and provide the opportunity for thrill-seekers to drive in more exciting traffic. For an added bonus, we could remove all speed limits and other regulations.

This would clearly be awesome, but given the opposition many people have to the idea of would-have-banned stores, I don’t see much hope for this becoming reality.

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Live a Little, You Molly-Coddled Pantywaist

Government-funded social marketing campaigns are very common in New Zealand. We get a whole of TV ads telling us not to drink and drive, smoke, or behave like a munter. Many see this as an effort to educate the public and allow them to make informed choices. I, and other libertarians, might object to coercive taxation paying for these ads, but surely they are producing some good by empowering individual choice, right? Well, no. They are generally not bringing the public’s perception closer to reality, but pushing it further away.

Take smoking. It may or may not be true that prior to the extensive research into the health effects of smoking carried out in the latter half of the twentieth century, most people underestimated the dangers of tobacco. In any case, it is not true today. With all the propaganda we’ve been exposed to over the years, it would take a heroic feat of wilful ignorance to be unaware of the health risks of smoking.

In fact, it seems that people tend to overestimate the risks of smoking. Kip Viscusi has shown that both smokers and non-smokers overestimate the risk of contracting lung cancer due to smoking. He concludes that if risk perceptions were unbiased (i.e. if people were on average making fully informed decisions), the number of smokers would increase by 7.5% This overestimation of risk is greater for younger people, presumably reflecting their more complete indoctrination

There seem to be similar trends for many other activities we are urged not to do. A study conducted in Quebec, for example, found that people were more likely to overestimate than underestimate the likelihood of crashing, being injured, and getting caught while driving drunk.

The scaremongering over sexually transmitted disease has likely left you unduly frightened as well. American college students overestimate the risk of HIV transmission by a factor of 10 or more, and perceived risk exceeds actual risk even in relatively high-risk countries such as Malawi.

The obvious message of all this: if you’ve considered the pros and cons and remain unsure whether to have a ciggie, go bareback, or drive home from the pub – go ahead and do it. It’s more likely that you’re wrongly erring on the side of caution due to biased risk perceptions than it is you’re being reckless. Of course, you should take in account the risks you’re imposing on others, but if you’ve done that and your intuitive cost-benefit analysis of behaviour you’ve been repeatedly told not to engage in comes out roughly even, take the riskier option. You’ll have more fun and you’ll probably be fine.

Let the Moral Panic Begin

I suspect this is going to be used to justify more regulation and taxation of alcohol:

A 13-year-old boy is recovering in hospital after downing a one-litre bottle of spirits in 30 minutes at a sports training camp.

The boy was found in an alcohol-induced coma while at a New Zealand Snowsports junior training camp in Wanaka on Saturday night.

In what is believed to be a peer-pressure drinking incident, the boy consumed a one-litre bottle of 35 percent proof Jagermeister in about half an hour, the Otago Daily Times reported.

The amount is equivalent to 28 standard drinks.

Young males are always going to engage in risky behaviour, and risky behaviour is always going to go wrong sometimes. That’s life, not a social problem to be solved by the state.