Last Friday my daughter and I were heading to the mall. We live in an area that has approximately 100,000 which makes our town midsized’. We were shocked by the amount of ‘not so local’ looking traffic coming toward us. That is, there were an unusual amount of semi trucks and cars with carriers attached to their roof coming through our town. At that point, we knew that there must have been something big going on on one of the highways, And there was.
A 53 year old woman thought it was in her best interest to load up on vodka and get on the highway to head home. Unfortunately, she got on the exit ramp for the traffic going the other way and proceeded to drive toward the the people going 60 mph to their holiday destinations.
The result, on death and three more people seriously injured.
The girl who died had been on her way to look at wedding dresses with her fiancee. The interstate was closed for about 5½ hours thanks to this drunken driver.
Last September, the driver had been sited for DUI.
The judge this time around set her bail at $5 million.
State police said the accident happened about 1 p.m. Friday. The woman drove her Cadillac Escalade onto the interstate, driving westbound in the eastbound lanes. Her vehicle hit a minivan head-on, killing the girl and seriously injuring her fiance.
Police noted at the time of arrest that the woman showed signs of impairment, such as bloodshot eyes and a strong odor of alcohol. She refused to submit to a chemical test, but involuntary blood and urine samples were taken at the hospital and are still pending.
As we all know, this is not the only story this time of year about somebody who thinks that their need to abuse a substance is far more important than the lives of innocent people. And then there are the enablers– those who watch and do nothing (because they love them so much?) or serve them their toxic brew. Who served this woman more vodka after she was obviously drunk and then allowed her to get on the highway? Will they be questioned by the police?
Before you do something stupid, like this woman, or you allow somebody else to do something stupid, like her enablers…..here is a review for you.
According to the cdc, every day, 36 people in the United States die, and approximately 700 more are injured, in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion. But there are effective measures that can help prevent injuries and deaths from alcohol-impaired driving.
- In 2006, 13,470 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
- In 2007, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That’s less than one percent of the 159 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 generally used in combination with alcohol.
- Half of the 306 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-related crashes in 2006 were riding with drivers who had a BAC level of .08 or higher.
- In 2006, 45 children age 14 years and younger who were killed as pedestrians or bicyclists were hit by alcohol-impaired drivers.
- Males: Male drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes are almost twice as likely as female drivers to be intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater. It is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
- Young people:
- At all levels of BAC, the risk of being involved in a crash is greater for young people than for older people. In 2006, 19% of drivers ages 16 to 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking alcohol.
- Young men ages 18 to 20 (under the legal drinking age) reported driving while alcohol-impaired more than any other age group.
- Of the 1,746 traffic fatalities among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2006, about one out of every six (17%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
- Nearly half of the alcohol-impaired motorcyclists killed each year are 40 or older, and motorcyclists ages 40-44 have the highest percentage of fatalities with BACs of 0.08% or greater.
- Among drivers killed in fatal crashes, 30% have BACs of 0.08% or greater.9
- Drivers with prior driving while impaired (DWI) convictions: Among drivers involved in fatal crashes, those with BAC levels of 0.08% or higher were eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for DWI than were drivers who had not consumed alcohol.
Effective measures include:
- Aggressively enforcing existing 0.08% BAC laws, minimum legal drinking age laws, and zero tolerance laws for drivers younger than 21 years old in all states.
- Promptly revoking the driver’s licenses of people who drive while intoxicated.
- Utilizing sobriety checkpoints.
- Implementing health promotion efforts that use an ecological framework to influence economic, organizational, policy, and school/community action.
- Using multi-faceted community-based approaches to alcohol control and DUI prevention.
- Requiring mandatory substance abuse assessment and treatment for driving-under-the-influence offenders.
Other suggested measures include:
- Reducing the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.05%.
- Raising state and federal alcohol excise taxes.
- Implementing compulsory blood alcohol testing when traffic crashes result in injury.
Actions to decrease alcohol-related fatal crashes involving young drivers have been effective
Over the past 20 years, alcohol-related fatal crash rates have decreased by 60 percent for drivers ages 16 to 17 years and 55 percent for drivers ages 18 to 20 years, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, this progress has stalled in the past few years. To further decrease alcohol-related fatal crashes among young drivers, communities need to implement and enforce strategies that are known to be effective, such as minimum legal drinking age laws and “zero tolerance” laws for drivers under 21 years of age.
“We ask people to tie MADD red ribbons to their vehicles to support law enforcement and remind others to drive safely during the holidays,” Ribbons are available at MADD offices throughout the nation, and sites are accessible through www.madd.org.