Thursday, 14 January 2010

A fair cop!

The combination of summer and festive gatherings brings many out of doors to party.  Which is fine up to a point, and then not.

An all day session at a household up the road was fairly well contained til evening when it seemed that tempers frayed and judgement blurred.  Out backed the ever-noisy car - noisier this time; the air filled with screaming tyres and clouds of smoke - burnout!  Oh God, not again!  Off he went down the street, ripping the inside out of his engine and the outside off his tyres.  Back he came, slung the car through a U-turn, crashing across the side of the footpath, paused, then made an attempt at turning in the gate.  Missed.  Crunch.  Tried again and made it, sort of.  Turned the engine off and sat in his car, the stereo blaring.  A woman came out of the house and talked to him with the evident intention of calming him down, her hand on his arm.  Well good, but this man is obviously drunk as well as dangerous - to use a car with that degree of misjudgement and violence puts others at risk.

Fearful that he would take the car back out on the road I phoned the police.  They took the details but didn't have 'a unit' in the area at the time.  Half an hour later they phoned back and asked how things were.  All quiet at that point.  The light faded and the evening drew on.

I was about to settle down to watch tele when the front door of the said house banged and argument erupted.  I turned out the light and pushed back the curtain.  The man got into his car.  Eek!  I picked up the phone.  Out he backed, across to the wrong side of the road.  "Yup, there he goes again" I informed.  Tyres screamed once more.  "He's not moving; he's disappearing in a cloud of smoke."  The advice down the phone was to lay a complaint in the morning, and that was it.

I kept watching.  Unbelievably, tyres continued screaming, then died down though the revs continued.  A car glided from around the corner behind him and paused.  Was the driver waiting to see if it was safe to pass?  I couldn't see much in the gloom.  Then the Christmas lights came on: red-blue-red-blue-red-blue.  Beautiful!  People poured out of the house, rowdy.  Another car growled up the street from the other end and more Christmas lights came on.  Even better.  Our usually quiet street was full of people: loud laughter, angry outbursts, bad language, excuses and commentary, pleasant but stern directives from the police.  "No burn-outs here" came the boastful disclaimer.  The driver became progressively less cocky as tyre marks were photographed, the tow truck arrived, and finally he was handcuffed and put in the back of the police car.  Off they drove.  Good.  Off drove the towie, laden with the offending car.  Everyone else went back inside and quiet settled on the street once more. 

We won't see that car for a while: thanks to sensible legislators and competent police there will be automatic impoundment for a month for 'sustained loss of traction'.  The driver will probably be set back about a grand and a half, and loose his licence for a while.  All this for wont of a little moderation and self-restraint.

Too heavy?  I don't think so.  Having nearly died myself from being hit by an out-of-control car, I am only too well aware of the disaster that can be the consequence of this sort of behaviour.  Far better that such drivers and their vehicles are off the road for a time and carry the consequences themselves rather than inflict them on others.

In fact, putting a stop to this sort of thing before it results in car crashes, injury and the like is a net saving - to insurance companies, the police and justice systems, hospital and other medical bills, the sanity of our communities, and most of all the lives and welfare of innocent bystanders and their families.  The cost to all of us of this sort of drunken and irresponsible behaviour is very much more than a fine and a new set of tyres.

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