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Should we, can we, make the roads safe for drunk drivers?

Very often, a News-Press story about a violent death is illustrated with a mug shot of the victim, for antisocial people have a tendency to suffer violent deaths. This one, a piece written by Thomas Stewart, was different; it was illustrated with a photo, possibly a graduation photo, of a beautiful, charming, smiling young woman, a woman who had lost her life by driving while drunk.

Her parents want the Cape Coral road altered so that such a crash cannot happen again. The woman's roommate began a petition to the city's Transportation Advisory Committee, and at a recent meeting City Council decided against spending $325,000 on this one intersection.

Cape Coral has a number of roads that end close to water, and the intersection of Beach Parkway and Surfside Boulevard is one of them.

There have been two fatal crashes here since 2005; both involving speeding drunk drivers with a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit. Two other crashes involved speeding, and another driver ran away. Sobriety has its advantages, which we already knew.

When a young person dies, it is difficult to talk about responsibility and about drunk driving, which is certainly evident here.

A city councilman, who had himself lost a child, said he could not look at those parents and remind them of their daughter's blood alcohol level. I cannot fault him for that.

Mayor Sullivan said it wasn't just the drunk driving, but something wrong with the roadway. That may be true, but so far only drunk drivers, very drunk drivers, have died as a result of a crash here.

I specify "crash" rather than "accident," because when a drunk driver gets behind the wheel, no bad outcome can truly be called unforeseen and unforeseeable.

I read the petition, and numerous comments, online. None of them mentioned drunk driving. "If there had been a barrier she would not have died," runs the thread, and the responsibility is assigned to the city. No one is dishonored by the truth, and the truth is this lovely young woman killed herself on that road, aided and abetted by the friends who let her drive drunk. There is no mention of that, either. It apparently would cost $325,000 to make one intersection drunk-driver proof, a lot for a city that cannot even afford to keep the roads paved, but nothing at all to persuade a friend not to drive drunk.

Her friends have not come forward, at least publicly, to explain why they allowed her to do that, and they should. "Am I my brother's keeper," remember, was said by a murderer, and those are not words to live by. "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" are words to live by, as is "designated driver." You can buy a lot of taxi rides for a third of a million.

We are entitled to safe roads, and it's the city's job to provide them. It is not surprising that what is a safe road for most of us will not be drunk-driver proof. The question, then, is how much are we obliged to spend to protect the irresponsible from their own actions? We do this already, in many instances, but the well is not bottomless and the needs are never-ending.

I'd like to see a public demonstration at the next council meeting. But in addition to "Safer roads now!" signs I'd very much like to see "Friends don't let friends drive drunk," and especially "I let her down, and I am so sorry."

Written by John Agnew, www.news-press.com

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