Friday, January 26, 2007

A ?park? for drunks


This maxim is well known to police officers and emergency room doctors: False courage and poor judgment increase in direct proportion to the number of alcoholic beverages consumed by drivers.

Since drunken drivers continue as highway menaces, any proposed solution to remove them from roads, however offbeat, is worth serious discussion.

Ketchum City Councilman Baird Gourlay offers a stop-gap remedy that the city's traffic officials should mull over—a vacant lot where drivers who know they're going to party too much can park their cars overnight.

Because current Ketchum laws prohibit parking on city streets during snow season, drivers leave bars or parties and hit public roads for the trip home, especially posing risks to others on state Highway 75.

Gourlay's proposal is inexpensive. Moreover, bar owners concerned about litigation growing out of vehicle accidents involving patrons would help promote overnight parking at a city facility. A vacant lot necessarily would need to be near the city center so drivers could park in advance of their partying.

Alcohol-related traffic fatalities take an awful toll. In Idaho in 2005, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 32 percent of the highway deaths involved alcohol (89 of 275). Nationally, 39 percent of the deaths involved DUI (16,885 out of 42,836.).

Ketchum during peak ski season can be a rollicking party town of young visitors. Councilman Gourlay's proposed parking lot is recognition that a night on the town is part of a resort's culture, plus the community's responsibility to provide protection for everyone against those with an excessive capacity for good times.




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