One of my favorite pastimes is walking.  I walk with my dog through my Warren, Michigan neighborhood.   But frequently my enjoyment ends when I come across broken glass littering my neighborhood.  It is almost impossible to walk through my Warren neighborhood without having to walk around broken glass on the sidewalks or streets.

Most of the broken glass I come across is from discarded liquor and beer bottles.  I imagine drivers throw empty liquor bottles out of their car to avoid being caught by the police.  Not only are these broken liquor bottles a nuisance, they are also hazardous to children and anyone or anything that may come in contact with it.  The local park next to my house frequently has broken glass both in the parking lot and in the playground yet young children play in the park everyday.  More than once I have picked up large pieces of broken glass inside the children play area so no one would get hurt.

Although the city of Warren has a recycling program that accepts glass containers, this is not an incentive to drivers throwing liquor bottles out of their vehicles.  I was not aware that liquor bottles are not part of the State's container return deposit program until recently.  It is obvious that current laws are not dissuading drivers from throwing trash out of their vehicles.  What other solutions are there?

One solution would be for companies to place their alcoholic beverages in plastic containers.  This would not curtail the activities of offending drivers or the resultant litter but it would remove the danger of broken glass.  I have noticed a few liquor bottles are made of plastic.  These plastic bottles make up only a small fraction of the total currently sold by liquor companies.  I encourage the liquor industry to provide more alcoholic beverages in plastic containers.

Another solution is to 1) increase the current deposit on beer bottles from 10 cents to 20.  2) include liquor bottles in the current return deposit program.  Another possibility is increasing the sales tax on all alcoholic beverages.  The result must be a strong enough incentive to keep offending drivers from discarding their liquor bottles.

These are only my suggestions.  I would be in favor of anything that would solve this problem.  For now, all I can do is pick up these bottles on my walks.  I encourage Michigan residents to write their elected officials and make them aware of this problem.  I've included links to both the Michigan Senate and the House of representatives.  Please write me if you have any suggestions or ideas.

Find your Senator Find your House Representative

Update 1/8/2003

Austin-Dannis Park

Drunk plows through railing leaving hood behind

There are so many people drinking and driving in my neighborhood.  They speed up and down our streets especially since our blocks are half a mile long.  The next block over a drunk driver raced down the street at a tremendous speed but forgot the street dead ends.  About 4 feet from the guard railing,  you could see tire marks where the driver suddenly realized the street dead ends.  Normally, you would have to crawl on your belly to get underneath the guard railing but the driver miraculously drove underneath it narrowly missing the wood posts on either side.  I can only imagine what the top of the car looks like.  Even though the driver did tremendous damage to his/her vehicle, he/she continued to drive through the park grounds and escaped into the next street.  If avoiding broken glass created by drunken drivers isn't bad enough you hope they don't run you over as well.

Related On-line Articles:

Broken Bottles: The Unkindest Cut of All -- A similar story posted by a Gaithersburg, MD resident.  Unfortunately, her Labrador received a severe laceration from broken glass during his walk.

Beer Bottles a Problem in Runnymeade Neighborhood -- A similar story from a Tennessee Valley resident.  Her van's windshield was broken when a driver threw his beer bottle at it.

Northern Saskatchewan Community Bans Beer in Bottles -- " bottle fragments were posing a hazard to children at swimming pools and playgrounds."

Let's Clear Up the Litter --"On several occasions my wife and I have been caused injury by fragments of shattered glass/shredded tin can, and being dog owners, have to watch the paths and grass every inch of our regular walks to ensure the safety of our pets."

Solutions Sought for After-Bar Problems Downtown -- "Bar owners could lessen the amount of broken glass if they stopped customers from removing beer bottles and glasses from their businesses, Police Chief Doug Carpenter said. If they can't do that, he said, they can sell alcohol in shatterproof containers."

Political Party in South Australia Seeks to Ban Alcohol Sold in Glass Bottles -- "The community is fed up with having to evade broken beer bottles on beaches and roads...It is about time that the brewers and other alcoholic drink manufacturers acknowledge the potential harm caused by their products' packaging."

Councilman Wants to Ban Sale of Single Beers in Parts of the City -- "About a dozen neighbors were there complaining about the broken beer bottles that litter their community.

Are Parks In Sonoma County Safe And Family Friendly? -- "Broken glass in parks is a problem: 33% of the parks reviewed had unsafe materials such as glass in the surface material (i.e. sand, rubber) under the play area. 30% of park users surveyed noted broken glass as a problem."

Broken Bottles, Alcohol, Disorder, & Crime -- "Most states do not have strong liquor-law regulations and procedures. Even states that have them on the books tend to underfund the agencies responsible for enforcing them."

Alcohol Lobby Fights Drunken Driving Bill -- The "liquor and restaurant industries are putting their concerns about profits ahead of saving lives."

Impaired Driving in Michigan -- "In 1997, Michigan drivers with BACs of .10 and above were involved in an estimated 42,800 crashes that killed 432 and injured 15,900."

Michigan Traffic Fatalities -- In 2000, 37% of all traffic fatalities in Michigan were caused drunk drivers.

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