A Drunk Driver Problem?

By Beacon Staff

Recently, I overheard one of the worst remarks about Lakeside, my hometown.

Someone remarked: “There are too many drunk drivers on the road in Lakeside.”

As a volunteer firefighter for the Somers Volunteer Fire Department, I figured my perspective was a bit skewed as, unfortunately, too many of our calls for service involve car wrecks and drunk drivers.

And I figured that perhaps my views were also askance since it’s the drunk driver calls that are the most memorable for one reason or another. The drunk driver calls often involve finding cars in odd places, such as in someone’s yard, in the bushes, or upside down in the middle of the road.

But it wasn’t until I continued to listen to the openly loud cellphone conversation, that I became concerned.

To paraphrase, it was something like this: “Yeah, tell her we’re going over to Bigfork for the rest of the week … there are too many drunk drivers on this road and they have a way smaller town … at least they can’t go that fast there.”

After hearing that, this conversation mattered much more. I put on my “Lakeside Community Council” cap, introduced myself, and inquired about the man’s concern (I’m one of the members of the Lakeside Community Council as well).

He explained how he loved visiting Lakeside with his RV, boat and grandkids. But he chastised me about how there’s too much traffic now, that you can’t get your boat in the water – and how someone in his family was almost hit by a driver every night this week.

And then came the worst. He explained how after 16 years, he is no longer coming to Lakeside and that, regrettably, Bigfork is now his place to summer vacation.

It wasn’t the loss of tourist revenue that bothered me the most. It was the notion that Lakeside was forming a bad reputation – to at least this gentleman, his family, and everyone else in the restaurant that evening.

I began to recall some of the recent Somers Volunteer Fire Department calls for service. And it became clear that perhaps this man has a point. There seems to be a problem with drunk drivers in Lakeside.

Anyone who drinks too much and remarks, “I can drive,” has got it all wrong.

For example, anyone can drive drunk and crash into the side of a convenience store. And anyone can drive drunk and drive off the side of the road crashing through mailboxes and trees along the way. And anyone can drive drunk, speed through town, swerve off the road, and flip end-over-end while ejecting oneself into the middle of the highway.

OK, it seems we’ve got a problem, so what’s the solution?

As one of the Lakeside Community Council members, you can propose your solutions and ideas to me (chaixjc@gmail.com), or attend any of the council meetings on the last Thursday of every month (the next one is scheduled for Aug. 29).

Also, if we all did just a little bit, I think we can help Lakeside ward off a reputation as an unsafe town.

So, if you live or work in Lakeside, please do your part. Keep it sober (or at least enjoy a reckless drunken stupor responsibly with a sober ride home).

And at the least, please do the right thing if you see someone about to do the wrong thing when it comes to drinking and driving.

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