|"Smile, you’re being fined"|
To these measures, add breathalyzers, and a permissible blood alcohol level lower than you’ll reach on a single beer (0.1 mg of alcohol for liter of air expelled). For that one beer you can end up paying a large fine, losing your license for up to a year and even serving some jail time. Then add mandatory driving schools. Add rigorous practical and psychological testing for new drivers. And public service announcements on television. Add mandatory retraining for drivers who rack up over 20 points on their licenses. There’s some serious enforcement here and I, for one, welcome it!
|Drive right in here, and take a deep breath|
|Interesting, and effective, public service campaign|
When Mark and I moved here the idea that a driver might stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk was almost ludicrous. It was the motorist who claimed the right of way, and pedestrians were wise not to trust their luck. But, while we still haven’t reached Californian levels of compliance with crosswalk laws, the situation has quite unmistakably taken a major turn. It’s as if stopping for pedestrians was contagious. One person did it. Everybody else copied. Brazilians now seem in effect to take pride in the courtesy they show.
But let me go back to where I started. Driving here is still neither as disciplined as it is in the U.S., and neither is it consequently as safe. But most new drivers in the U.S. had parents who were drivers and probably grandparents who were drivers. Driving as well as car-ownership have long been routine in the U.S. Here many drivers are first-generation drivers, and widespread car ownership is a function of the only recent emergence of a vast middle class. I don’t know the Asian countries. But, if what I hear about driving in India and China and Vietnam is true, Brazil may still be some distance from U.S. standards of behind-the-wheel prudence, but it’s at a far greater distance from the amazing mess you see in this picture from India. And this pretty much reflects just where we stand on the development scale. Down here in Southeastern and Southern Brazil, we’re not yet 100 percent First World. But we’re getting really close.