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Feeling Lucky?

by Mahala High Five Brigade / 06.05.2013


There isn’t much rationality in the desire to gamble. Most people do it because they feel lucky or desperate. But you’re always hoping that the outcome will be in your favour, right? It’s not even always the chance of winning that leads you to a casino, sometimes it’s just for fun, just to spend time with your mates, just because it got to that time of the night and everywhere else was closed, and let’s face it – for some reason you feel more lucky in a casino than in a strip club.

A standard roulette board has 36 numbers, meaning if you choose to try and pick the number the spinning ball might land on you have a 1 in 36 chance, or for the mathematicians out there, about a 2.7% chance. Small probability, but you could win big.

Few people do. They aren’t lying when they say the house always wins. The house always does. But there’s always the lure that you might strike it lucky and that keeps the punters coming back for more.

Now how often do you think about the fact that every time you go out for a few drinks with your mates you’re actually gambling with your life? Shock horror, cliché, you’ve heard it before and you’re a good driver, you trust yourself – last time you got home just fine and managed to buy yourself a happy meal on the way and anyway there is no public transport, taxis are expensive. Now let’s look at the maths.

Six out of ten deaths on the road in South Africa are related to drinking. You’re almost 30 times more likely to die in a car accident through drunk driving than winning at roulette. And even if you are a sober driver, something like one in seven cars on the road at night are being driven by people over the limit. That’s 14.3% of all the people on the roads.

And now the police in Mzansi are suddenly cracking down hard on drink drivers. By now everyone knows someone who has been detained for having a bit too much booze in the bloodstream. But many still take their chances with the roadblock roulette, not even thinking about the possibility of alcohol-related road death and carnage. It’s a case of dodge the roadblock, not stop the dopping.

Mainly because, in our largely under-policed society, we tend to believe we can get away with it. We often ignore what we consider to be the petty laws or think we could probably bribe our way out of trouble should we land in it. And this drink driving clamp down is quite a new development, because since forever, we’ve been getting away with having a few drinks and a few drinks more before climbing behind the wheel and driving ourselves back to bed, then waking up in the morning and wondering where we put the car keys. So any clampdown on our habits, no matter how reprehensible, stupid or irresponsible, is met with resistance. It feels strange and unnatural, we don’t like being told what to do. But when you do the maths, it actually just makes sense to not drink and drive, both in terms of consequence and punishment.

Changing our behaviour, stopping our ingrained cultural entitlement to have a few drinks and get behind the wheel of an automobile is a hard thing to do, especially considering that in South Africa, we’ve never really had to control ourselves in this way before. But the beautiful thing about human beings is that we can actively choose to do the smart thing. Not drinking and driving is like a small progressive step in our evolution. By not dopping and driving, we’re actively nipping natural selection in the bud. It may feel all weird and grown up, but you’ll get used to it. And you’ll even live to tell your kids about that time you willfully changed your behaviour because it was just the smarter thing to do.

*Check out the Drive Dry Campaign here.

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