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Sunday, September 12, 2004

War and Traffic Fatalities

Branko Vukšić (Branko Vuksic), chief political commentator of Nova TV, has lambasted all critics of Sanader's Prohibition. He claims that the law that bans any kind of alcohol consumption before driving is justified and repeats the mantra of "more Croatians being killed in traffic accidents during first 14 years of independence than in entire war". Even if the "wet" argument about only 7 % of all fatalities being caused by alcohol is accepted, that leads to 800 people, which is, according to Vukšić, "unacceptably high". Vukšić concludes his "dry" sermon by saying that one life saved completely justifies the new legislation.

If one life saved justifies such unpopular and practically unenforceable measure, than Sanader should go even further. Why should anyone save only those who might become victims of drunk drivers? What about those who die prematurely because of alcohol-related illnesses? What about those who drown in the seas and rivers because of alcohol consumption before swimming? What about those who die in bar brawls?

In other words, Croatia should adopt what USA had in 1920. And perhaps go even further by banning tobacco, regardless of consequences for the Croatian finances, tourism and crime statistics. Because a single life saved justifies anything.

Personally, I don't see this huge disparity between war and road fatalities as something Croatia should be particularly ashamed of. Croatian roads are bad, police is inefficient, cars are unsuitable for these conditions etc. and many things could be improved. But using relatively low casualties in war as an excuse for legislative folly completely misses the point. Those low casualties only show that Croatia had competent military, good medical services and excellent civil defence when they were most needed.

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