As we grow up, we all reach momentous milestones in our lives.
They could be our first day at school, becoming a teenager, passing our exams, getting a job, our first kiss, obtaining our driving licence, getting married – I think you get the picture.
But as we fast approach Labour Weekend, my thoughts have turned to the events that unfold at Loch Laird every year.
I don’t see this as a milestone, maybe an experience, but for some to argue being dropped off at 15 or 16-years-old with a box or two of beers is a rite of passage, I would have to disagree.
So why am I writing about Labour Weekend and an alcohol ban for an area few outside of Waitaki have heard of?
Because I am a parent. I also know that alcohol mixed with driving is not a good mix and it increases the chance of a crash occurring. Those crashes, on many occasions, result in serious injuries or death.
When I think of the effect of an alcohol ban, I can see it only doing good things. I was asked for a short quote about it, the one that sprang to mind was, “I’m sure you would prefer an alcohol ban, rather than a driving ban”.
Historically, what we have had at Loch Laird at Labour Weekend is a large group of young people attending what was a celebratory event in years gone by. However, over the years that has changed and brought in an undertone of underage drinking and unwarranted incidents because of that alcohol.
When you bring in young (inexperienced) drivers, who have been drinking the day and night before – I worry when they wake, they believe they are good to drive back home – this is not a good combination.
For those who see this event as a rite of passage, yes, I can see the fun in young people celebrating an event and going away and camping for a couple of days with friends. What seems to have been forgotten is alcohol does change people’s personality and makes us all do stupid things.
I know what effect alcohol has on people. I have seen drunk people fall in front of vehicles and have been very lucky not to be killed or seriously hurt. I have breathalysed young and old the morning after an event and arrested them and placed them before the court for driving over the limit. Some of those people were cut out of cars after crashing on a school run, with children in the back of the car. So it is not just the young who do stupid things.
Parents, if your child is driving to the lakes, take a moment and think of how you would answer the following questions:
What effect would a life changing crash have on my child?
What effect would it have on my child if they crashed and seriously hurt or killed someone?
What effect would it have on my child’s future if they were prosecuted for drink-driving?
So please, think carefully whether you are happy to send your child off to the lakes with a box or two of beers to consume over those couple of days.
Drive safer, Waitaki.
Jason Evered is the Waitaki District Council road safety co-ordinator