Recent statistics on fatalities involving drunk drivers show that the number of people killed in alcohol related crashes since 2002 are declining. But, what we need to remember is that these statistics are not just numbers on a graph. These statistics represent a person – someone’s loved one, whether they are family, friend, neighbor, co-worker or an acquaintance.
Unlike contracting cancer or some other terminal illness, fatalities caused by a drunk driver are 100 percent preventable. Drunk driving is a choice. You cannot choose to get or not get cancer. You cannot choose to have or not have a heart attack. But you can choose to drive drunk.
It’s interesting to note, between the years 2002 and 2006, there were a total of 3,179 traffic fatalities and of those, 1,270 were alcohol related. That means 40 percent of people killed in a traffic accidents between 2002 and 2006 occurred because someone chose to drink and drive.
While actual fatalities attributed to drunk drivers may be improving, the statistics for illegal drivers, including drunk drivers and those who speed and drive recklessly, continue to be grim. According to a Denver Post article, there may be as many as 225,000 illegal drivers in Colorado. And these illegal drivers caused nearly one-fourth of all traffic deaths in Colorado last year. In 2008, Colorado saw 548 people killed in motor vehicle crashes, and of those, 130 of these fatalities (24 percent) involved illegal drivers.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will launch its annual, nation-wide “Tie One On For Safety” community awareness campaign later this month. The program, started in 1986, urges the public to drive safe, sober, and buckled up during upcoming holidays. MADD Colorado distributes over 20,000 of these red ribbons every year and hopes to increase that number with your help. Across the United States, MADD plans to distribute more than 6 million red ribbons in 2009.
How Can You Support MADD’s Tie One On For Safety Program?
-Display a red ribbon visibly in your vehicle or tied to your car keys. Red ribbons are available through your local MADD office or at the Law Office of Bachus & Schanker, LLC.
-Host parties responsibly by offering mocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages. You can also provide alternative transportation or accommodations for guests who have been drinking. MADD offers a Safe Party Guide.
-Designate a non-drinking driver before drinking begins.
While it’s encouraging that drunk driving fatalities are declining, let’s remember that when we see a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) fatality statistic – we’re talking about someone’s life – not just a number on a graph. Let’s Tie One On For Safety this holiday season!