What if seven airplanes full of men, women and children crashed in one month and everyone on board? And what if this happened once a month, every month, year after year?
Wouldn’t you want to know the cause of these frequent disasters? Wouldn’t you do everything possible to prevent this senseless loss of life?
Well, here’s the kicker: Roughly this same number of people die in the U.S. every year in DWI-related crashes. Sadly, many families and friends have been lost in driving-while-intoxicated accidents right here in Lee’s Summit.
Now that the holidays are upon us, many businesses and families will host holiday parties. There will be laughter, friendship and likely alcohol at those parties.
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It would be easy to over-consume then get behind the wheel at the end of the party. When people make such choices, they not only risk their own lives, but the lives of everyone else on the road.
A quick decision to drive home when intoxicated could have life-changing, or life-ending, consequences.
Missouri’s DWI law says that it’s illegal to drive while in an intoxicated or drugged condition. With the stress of the holidays, some people may be inclined to “up” their dosage of prescription medications, possibly including narcotics. They also may take medications prescribed to someone else.
In either case, the criminal penalty for DWI is no different than if they had over-consumed alcohol. Sadly, the life-changing consequences are no different either. (Combining prescription narcotic medications with alcohol is also a potentially deadly mix, even if not driving.)
Distracted driving also poses a major safety problem.
Cell phones can draw a driver’s attention from the road to a text message, a Facebook post or a great deal on holiday shopping. But here’s the problem: When you are driving, that momentary distraction takes your eyes off the road. Suddenly, you’ve traveled further down the road, oblivious to roadway changes around you and can become involved in a crash.
Fatigue is another concern. The hectic nature of the holidays may result in your driving from work to shopping to family or business celebrations. All of this dashing around can cause you to feel worn out.
Studies have shown that drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. The National Highway Traffic Administration estimates that 100,000 crashes a year can be attributed to drowsy driving.
If a “designated driver” plan falls through, there are many services available — such as taxis, Uber, and Lyft — to help you get home after a night of celebrating with friends and family.
They’re a lot cheaper than a DWI arrest — or worse, a crash that injures or kills someone. Make the right choice so that we all can enjoy the holidays safely.
The greatest holiday gift you can give your family and friends is you ... healthy and unhurt.
The Lee’s Summit’s Health Education Advisory Board’s guest columnist, Master Police Officer John S. Easley, is a 21-year veteran of the Lee’s Summit Police Department. He has trained police officers throughout the state on DWI-related courses and also lectured at the Drugs and Driving Symposium in Toronto, Canada.