Don’t drink and drive. It's a deceptively simple rule, but one that is all too often ignored. And while efforts to eliminate drunk driving have been around as long as automobiles, every movement to keep drunks from driving has hit some alarming bumps in the road.
Barron H. Lerner narrates the two strong—and vocal—sides to this debate in the United States: those who argue vehemently against drunk driving, and those who believe the problem is exaggerated and overregulated. A public health professor and historian of medicine, Lerner asks why these opposing views exist, examining drunk driving in the context of American beliefs about alcoholism, driving, individualism, and civil liberties.
Angry and bereaved activist leaders and advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving campaign passionately for education and legislation, but even as people continue to be killed, many Americans remain unwilling to take stronger steps to address the problem. Lerner attributes this attitude to Americans’ love of drinking and love of driving, an inadequate public transportation system, the strength of the alcohol lobby, and the enduring backlash against Prohibition of the 1920s. The stories of people killed and maimed by drunk drivers are heartrending, and the country’s routine rejection of reasonable strategies for ending drunk driving is frustratingly inexplicible.
This book is a fascinating study of the culture of drunk driving, grassroots and professional efforts to stop it, and a public that has consistently challenged and tested the limits of individual freedom. Why, despite decades and decades of warnings, do people still choose to drive while intoxicated? One for the Road provides crucial historical lessons for understanding the old epidemic of drunk driving and the new epidemic of distracted driving.
Praise for Barron H. Lerner’s award-winning When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine
"Lerner has done a beautiful job of tracing the degree to which celebrity patients have reflected and shaped the modern American understanding of doctors, patients, and illness."—New England Journal of Medicine
"Lerner has created a powerful prism through his thoughtful exploration of celebrity illness, highlighting societal and cultural forces that widely affect public and private health care decisions."—Journal of the American Medical Association
"We can learn quite a bit about our society, culture, and values from the way celebrities' illnesses are publicly portrayed . . . Lerner is at his best when he uses his considerable narrative skills to place these stories into their broader historical, cultural, and ethical contexts."—American Journal of Bioethics
"In Lerner's capable hands, these dozen stories in their retelling are both colorfully dramatic narratives, ripped from the headlines (as the saying now goes) and also probing samples of historically specific contingencies and shifting attitudes."—Bulletin of the History of Medicine