Editorial: Listen to your mothers

Maybe there's another cautionary message the drink-driving ads could use. Don't do it - or your mum may talk to the media about your behaviour and the lessons to be learnt from it.

That's a prospect that may register more vividly, more scarily, in many a young man's imagination than any number of often repeated advertisements depicting gruesomely slo-mo or shockingly-sudden collisions.

Maybe Tane Moehau is mortified about the way his mum Biddy Poole has spoken out about the accident he somehow survived north of Mataura 10 days earlier.

Maybe he agrees with pretty much every word she said.

Maybe both.

It wasn't that anything she said was all that surprising. If anything it was the reverse. It resonated with so many people because they could so easily see themselves, or their own children, in these roles.

There was nothing extravagant or flowery in the mother's account. She described arriving at the scene, seeing his car cut in two by the impact with an innocent tree, and being convinced that in that moment that he could not have survived. Learning he was only moderately injured, and had been drinking, she didn't know whether to hug him or "kill him" herself. She's now so grateful that he's alive to face a judge - but also that his accountability does not extend, as it so easily could have, to hurting others or claiming their lives.

In the words of parents throughout the ages, she hoped that her son could learn from wrong decisions. That he would think before he drank - and before he drove.

We've printed parental comments like that before. And plenty of stories, too, where the outcomes were so much worse. Underpinning it all, this time was a mother's sense of gratitude. that her son was still there. Still capable of getting it right from here on.

That's something the wider community should share. Drink-drivers do feel the reproach of their society and rightly so. In cases like this there's a penalty to be paid. But it's still good to have them with us, living lives that sometimes through sheer dumb luck needn't be defined by such mistakes.

The Southland Times