There are reasons you might get stuck driving a car through a tunnel not meant for cars. The tunnel might be poorly marked, for instance. But the Queens Quay streetcar tunnel in Toronto is marked up the wazoo, with flashing red lights, multiple signs, rumble strips, and bollards, but still people head into the tunnel and get stuck. But there’s a difference between the most recent driver to do this and the previous 25.
Tthis driver was found at 4:30 a.m., stopped in the tunnel – the pavement sinks lower than the tracks, stranding the cars. But unlike previous drivers in this predicament, he was still driving – his foot was on the accelerator, going nowhere fast.
Doing the same thing repeatedly and hoping for a different outcome is said to be a definition of insanity. But in cars it’s also a definition of impairment. Police told the driver to take his foot off the pedal. He did so, and was arrested and charged.
All in all, the Queens Quay tunnel is a good place for a drunk driver to end up. No one gets hurt, and the driver is easily apprehended (a previous driver in the same spot removed his licence plates to foil the police, but we don’t think that worked out too well).
It does disrupt public transportation, however, so all in all it’s a costly way to apprehend impaired drivers. For that reason, the TTC will be installing gates so that no driver – drunk or not – will be able to enter it.
If a tunnel is not a practical way to catch drunk drivers, ignition interlocks are. Devices which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking, ignition interlocks are required for all impaired-driving-related offenses. The offender, and not the taxpayer, foots the bill for the device, which is a lot cheaper than prying a Honda out of a concrete cave.
Once the gates are built in front of the tunnel, ignition interlocks and police patrols will be the only way we have of catching drunk drivers. May they both keep doing what they do.