Drink driving: Cruel doorknock from a crazed culture

THE driver who killed Penny Martin's son told his mates that he hadn't had a drink since 9pm.

It was 3am and trusting the driver, a P-plater, Josh jumped in the car. He never made it home.

More than a decade has passed, but Ms Martin is still unable to comprehend the horrific incident.

"It may as well have been two years ago. It just never goes away," she said. "It's something that I don't think you ever completely grasp. I don't think you ever really believe it. My son could walk in the door tomorrow and I would be thinking, oh god, guess what I thought happened."

Since Josh's death in 2001, Ms Martin has been a road safety campaigner in an effort to prevent her tragedy from being replicated.

Ms Martin said it worried her that drivers were being taught that they could get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

"The government tells you how many drinks you can have, how much before you're over. We actually have a drunk limit to drive at.

"There's that many booklets and things on what constitutes a standard drink and everything. We teach them how to drink and drive, so of course we have drink drivers.

"It's not even like teaching the probationary drivers to be zero — it's teaching them what they can drink and still be zero."

Ms Martin's comments coincide with a Victoria Police blitz on drunk and reckless drivers in the approach to Christmas. She said she was dismayed at how blase some young drivers were about the risk they took when they got behind the wheel.

"I've spoken to P-plate drivers who drink all day and try and work out how long before they're zero so they can drive. They don't work it out, of course, because it's a guessing game."

She called on the state government to implement harsher penalties and lower the blood-alcohol limit from .05.

"We've banned mobile phones completely on the road, as they should, because it's as dangerous as driving at .05. So why are we legally allowed to be on the road at .05?

"There isn't any evidence to say it's safe — it should be zero — and the only people who would go against that would be people who prefer to drink and drive. It's like asking a dopehead whether marijuana should be legalised."

Ms Martin warned drivers against getting in the car after a few drinks.

"Most people look at crashes like it's something that would never happen to them because they're a better driver than that person. And you know the cemetery's full of good drivers."

"It's not about them as drivers — it's about the other people in their car or in another car."

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