How many times can I say it: Impaired Driving Causes Crashes
Every year we brace ourselves for the crashes that occur this year related to impaired driving. Many people are attending holiday parties and celebrations–not everyone is careful to make sure that they are sober before getting behind the wheel. In my years in policing I’ve seen some horrific holiday crashes where people are injured and killed. When kids are victims it is the worst of all.
We’ve even had an instance many years ago, where an officer lost his family to the actions of a drunk driver on Christmas Eve. Nobody around here forgets it at this time of year.
How big is the problem?
- In 2009, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
- Of the 1,314 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2009, 181 (14%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
- Of the 181 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2009, about half (92) were riding in the vehicle with the with the alcohol-impaired driver.
- In 2009, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That’s less than one percent of the 147 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.
- Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs are often used in combination with alcohol.
(All statistics courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.)
At this time of the year when families are celebrating together–and at the same time are stressed from too much travel, shopping, overindulging at many levels take time to make sure you have a designated driver for holiday parties or BE the designated driver. Using drugs whether prescription or illegal has the impact of increasing the level of impairment when combined with alcohol.
We will be conducting additional patrols for impaired drivers again this holiday season. Don’t spend your holiday in the slammer–or the hospital–or the morgue.