Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of America’s deadliest crimes. According to the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16,885 people died in 2005 from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes with hundreds of thousands more injured.
Every 30 minutes, nearly 50 times a day, someone in America dies in an alcohol-related crash. In 2006, the 435th Air Base Wing lost one of our own to an alcohol-related crash. The NHTSA also reports more than half of the 414 child passengers under the age of 15 who died in alcohol-related crashes during 2005 were riding with a drinking driver.
The new year is a time for family, friends and celebration, but unfortunately it is also a time when a tragic increase in the number of alcohol-related highway fatalities occurs. There are several simple steps you can take to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving.
• Agree on a sober designated driver before the party begins
• Don’t even think about getting behind the wheel of your vehicle if you’ve been drinking
• If you’re impaired and need help: call a taxi, Armedforces Against Drunk Driving, a supervisor, a friend or family member
• Or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober
Remember, friends don’t let friends drive drunk: take the keys and never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.
Members of the KMC are asked to think about the past year and examine measures our wing commanders have taken to reduce drinking and driving incidents among military and civilian personnel. These included curfews, restricted access to drinking establishments between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., and the June Wingman Day’s focus on drinking and driving. We all know the consequences are serious and real.
Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is simply not worth the risk. So remember, during the new year, if you catch a buzz, catch a ride.