Seeing Red about Drunk Driving
Last Saturday, hundreds of Boy Scouts lined the streets leading to Trinity Lutheran Church in Islip to say goodbye to a fellow scout, Andrew McMorris, who had been killed by a drunk driver the week before. All around the neighborhood, bright-red bows decorated trees, street posts and private homes to pay homage to the fallen 12-year-old on the day of his funeral and to his family, who must now bear this terrible loss.
However, the bows should have also been a reminder to everyone to begin seeing red about the prevailing scourge of drunk driving.
According to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving website (www.madd.org), there are 300,000 incidents a year that are related to drunk driving or driving under the influence. Those incidents result in around 290,000 injuries and 10,497 deaths. That’s 29 deaths per day or one every 50 minutes. New York sees around 283 deaths annually. When will it end?
Despite all of the enhanced education and legislation with tougher penalties on drinking and driving, it persists. Most would agree that even one death a year is far too many, and we must all remain vigilant in working to help bring it to an end, as unrealistic as that might sound.
Setting up frequent sobriety checkpoints on roadways by police is a good thing, for sure. And we have made some advances through the use of the Interlock device. Interlock is a piece of equipment that is attached to a car’s ignition, which requires repeat offenders to blow into a tube to test alcohol levels in order for the car to start. Thirty states including New York and Washington, D.C., require Interlocks, which have decreased the death rate.
However, not enough of these devices are being used. Everyone, even a first-time offender, should be required to have an Interlock device in their car as well. After all, statistics show that on average, a drunk driver will drive 80 times under the influence before their first arrest. Elected officials should begin working toward making those changes now.
So come on people – start seeing red! We cannot afford to lose one more child – or adult, for that matter – at the wheel of a drunk driver.
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