R.I.D.E. Checks vs Social Media

Ride ProgramFollowing one of many holiday parties in December, I endured a 5 minute traffic delay as a result of a Reduced Impaired Driving Everywhere (R.I.D.E.) check. When it was my turn to speak with the Officer, I declared that I was the designated driver, having consumed a handful of club sodas over the course the evening. My passengers were quick to announce that they’d absorbed my share of alcohol, and then some, much to the amusement of the Officer who sent us on our merry way. Needless to say, a majority of us don’t mind being stopped by R.I.D.E. programs, because they ultimately contribute to keeping us and our loved ones safe on the roads.  Further, the negative result of incidents involving drunk drivers far exceeds anything that could be simply labelled an inconvenience.

This past holiday, there was an explosion of social media users who were taking it upon themselves to broadcast the locations of R.I.D.E. spot checks, supposedly in an effort to help others avoid traffic delays rather than aid drunk driver in avoiding the authorities.  If only everyone’s intentions were this noble and true.  Police and anti-impaired driver organizations were quick to cry foul, calling for Tweeters to refrain from disclosing the location of spot checks, which rely on the element of surprise in order to “connect with their target audience”.  Looking past the motives of social media users broadcasting this information, this week’s poll asks:

Should Kingstonian's refrain from posting R.I.D.E Check locations?

  • Yes. It enables drunk driving. (72%, 109 Votes)
  • No. It's harmless. (17%, 26 Votes)
  • Something else entirely. (11%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 151

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While tweeting the location of R.I.D.E. check locations is not illegal, much like the practice of flashing your lights to notify other drivers of the presence of police, legal experts have warned “if we could prove that somebody was drunk and got around a RIDE due to a tweet — and then got into an accident — there could be criminal and civil implications.”  Locally, the Kingston Police have been leading a discussion regarding the matter, and have publicly tweeted:

We don’t have an issue with, and have done it ourselves, of advising there will be a RIDE Program on a certain night, just not the location.

[We] Believe there’s a fault in logic when one assumes an impaired driver is thinking rationally & won’t drive b/c they know the location.

We feel an impaired driver already has the mindset to drive & now is more likely to since that know exactly where to avoid police.

What are your thoughts on employing social media to announce the exact location of R.I.D.E. checkpoints?  Do you think the motives of social media users should be taken into consideration, or are they trumped by the inherent risks associated with enabling intoxicated drivers?  Do you support others, or have you taken it upon yourself to overuse hashtags such as #ride to confuse those who are monitoring social media in an attempt to pin point and avoid the location of spot checks?  Please drop off your comments below.

Thanks to peevee@ds for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

One thought on “R.I.D.E. Checks vs Social Media

  • Social media should not be utilized to announce the location of R.I.D.E. checkpoints. Us taxpayers spend a lot of money to employ police officers to manage R.I.D.E. checkpoints throughout the Kingston area. For the program to be effective, they obviously have to be in locations that are unbeknownst to drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. Protecting the unfortunate members of our society should be something that most citizens strive to achieve in a vibrant local democracy, and we choose to put our fellow citizens in danger when we indirectly encourage and enable drunk driving via tweets or other forms of social media.

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