The first two years I lived in Barcelona I didn’t have a car and didn’t miss it. I walked everywhere I wanted to go in town, and I used public transportation for outings. Once we rented a car to go to the mountains. It was fine.
Later when we had moved and needed a car to do just about everything, I came to see how crazy people here were on the roads. When I walked, I was about the fastest and always weaving in and out among the other pedestrians. But on the highway? Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire! No one obeyed the speed limit and lots of crazies would pass on a two-land road when there was an oncoming car. My car.
I decided at some point that people here drive like madmen because there is little or no penalty for doing so. Even if you run over someone and kill them not much happens. When I got my driver’s license, a young man who got his at the same time said he was very happy because now he could do whatever he wanted behind the wheel. And he’s not the only one to say that.
But lately there have been a couple of accidents that have brought to public attention the absurdity of no penalty and letting drunk drivers loose. One young man was deemed drunk and had his car impounded, but he was not hauled in, despite the fact that he had been charged with drunk driving several times in the past and was driving with a suspended license. He got his car back a few hours later after a friend redeemed it for him, and soon after that, while drunk, he crashed and killed a young woman in the other car. The public was not pleased.
Because people are getting fed up with the risk of becoming roadkill (something blatantly clear to me for a long time, but not so obvious to the natives), the Catalan public television station has been highlighting all similar stories. Of which there are many. Yesterday’s took the cake.
A young woman was stopped at a control point and deemed to have double the allowable alcohol content in her blood. It turned out that all the other four young women passengers in the car were also too drunk to take the car and drive the group home. So one of them called her father to come and get them.
When the father showed up on his motorcycle, the police did a breath check before letting him drive all the girls home in the young woman’s car. But lo and behold, he was found to be even more drunk than any of the five young women, with three times the allowable limit of alcohol in his blood.
I wondered how the six of them got home. Did they keep calling other family and friends until they finally hit the jackpot?
Photo: Catalunya Informacio