Yes they were both negligent, but only driver a is responsible for killing someone.
I condemn [arry] for drink driving. Period end of story. you don't have to damage something or injure something.
I condemn [kookaburra] for driving. Period end of story. you don't have to damage something or injure something.
OK. Let me piece my way through this:
1. Arry is advocating a consequentialist morality. He suggests that a drink driver who actually injures somebody is more morally responsible than the drink driver who doesn’t.
2. Kookaburra counters that the act to be condemned is the risk taken by driving drunk. The act is not made better or worse by the good or bad fortune of hitting someone or not hitting someone.
3. Arry counters in turn that the same could be said of driving while not
drunk; there’s a risk of death or injury involved.
4. Since Arry has previously said that he takes a consequentialist view, I presume his absolutist position in relation to sober driving is not meant seriously; he intends it to show that Kookaburra's absolutist position on drunk driving is absurd.
But, arry, when it comes to driving while not drunk [and while not otherwise careless, incompetent, etc], we do
say that the moral quality of the act is the same, whether or not death or injury results.
No matter how careful, skilled etc we are, there is an irreducible core of risk to others in taking to the roads in a car, which is greater than the risk of taking to the road on a bicycle, on foot, in a bus, etc.
You might question whether that risk is justified by the social advantages of mobility, etc, afforded by driving. But, if you take the view that it is justified (and I think most people take this view) then it doesn’t become unjustified because, through a sheer accident for which no-one is to blame (and, yes, such accidents do happen; that’s why we comprehensive insurance was invented) someone is injured or killed.
In other words, the morality of taking the risk of driving does not depend on whether anyone is killed or injured. It depends on whether the risk of death or injury is small enough to be justified by other considerations. In short, we do
take an absolutist position in relation to sober driving. There is nothing absurd about it.
Your condemnation of sober driving appears absurd not because it is absolutist, but because it finds the risk of sober driving not to be outweighed by the advantages, a conclusion with which very few people would agree.
I think this is the real moral difference between drunk driving and sober driving; one involves a small risk which is [generally considered to be] justifiable, the other a large risk which is [generally considered to be] unjustifiable.
So if, with sober driving, the justified risk doesn’t become unjustified if the driver has the bad luck to hit someone, why should the moral quality of the risk of drunk driving change if the driver has the bad luck to hit someone?
Or would you argue that the sober, careful skilled driver is to be condemned at fault if he hits someone through absolutely no fault of his own? That would at least be consistent