A magical night indeed, but could something life-threatening lurk around the corner? I refer to the potentially deadly and all too familiar phrase “drinking and driving.”
As I did the research for this week’s column, I was hopeful that the statistical data from government agencies would show a decrease in drunken driving arrests. In reality, the statistics show they are on the rise.
According to the FBI’s website, an estimated 1,215,077 people were arrested in 2011 for driving under the influence in the United States. That number rose to 1,282,957 arrests in 2012.
Am I the only one finding these numbers alarming? With all the educational programs offered nationwide, coupled with all the media coverage of actual DUI accidents, how can arrests be on the rise? Is something not clicking with this message? Do people not realize the horrific consequences of drinking and driving?
“I responded to a fatal collision involving a DUI driver that took place on the outskirts of Tracy in which four people lost their lives,” Sgt. Robert Rickman, California Highway Patrol, said. “The scene of this accident has stayed with me. This was one of the worst collisions I have ever seen. The collision was so intense that it destroyed both vehicles. It was head on and one of the vehicles went over the top of the other, peeling off the roof. Three family members, all the same family, lost their lives due to the actions of a DUI driver, and that driver was the fourth fatality.”
Years back, I was asked to be the master of ceremonies for an annual candlelight vigil held in Stockton by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I read off the names of those who had lost their lives due to a drunken driver and saw the real pain in the faces of their surviving family members who had gathered. One of those faces in the crowd was my dear friend Annette, a mother who had lost her daughter due to a drunken driver.
This message is not a new one or one that will come as a shock to readers. It is a choice. And when you choose to drink and drive, it is a most selfish one. Look into the eyes of those who have lost family members and ask yourself — is this worth their lives? Is it worth yours? Please don’t drink and drive.
For more information on MADD, visit www.madd.org. The group also offers a 24-hour helpline for victims and survivors, 877-MADD-HELP.
• Anne Marie Fuller, National Mrs. Beauties of the Nation and Mrs. California BOTN, is the host of Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.