A colleague and his family, on their way for a break, had a major accident this weekend. My colleague, following his GPS, took a detour off the highway onto a small road, which turned into a single lane road. Not realizing this, my colleague, who has an unsafe driving record, drove onto the left side of the road, which, he thought, was the passing lane. By the time he had realized it wasn't, and that he was driving in the lane for oncoming traffic, it was too late. Head-on collision, everybody injured, some people air-lifted to a hospital, cars totalled. My colleague's two little children have had steel pegs put in their legs, and his wife is still in critical condition. Nobody seems to know the condition of those in the other car. My colleague is relatively unscathed, though frantic with worry and guilt.
So now, he has been charged with "failure to keep right", and has to respond with a guilty / not-guilty plea. If he pleads guilty, he assumes blame for the accident, and will, in all probability, have his license suspended. (In suburban USA, this is equivalent to having your limbs cut off - you are effectively paralyzed.) If he pleads not guilty, and his guilt his proved, this might happen anyway. However, with a good lawyer, there is a chance that he may get away with something more minor. And thereby keep his license and keep driving.
My heart goes out to him and his family, still in the hospital far away from home, wondering how it will all go. But does this man deserve to drive again? It scares the shit out of me to think that through no fault of my own, someone might come barrelling down the wrong side of the road and plough into me. That what happens to me may not be a function of how safe a driver I am, but of how effective the system is at taking and keeping unsafe drivers off the road. That ultimately, what I do may have little impact (unfortunate term) on what happens to me.
Let's hope the system works.