Times West Virginian
As each year draws to a close and people around the region begin making plans for their New Year’s Eve celebrations, we make the same plea: Don’t drink and drive.
It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities, and we aren’t suggesting that the end of one year and the fresh start of another shouldn’t be marked with a few celebratory glasses of champagne.
But if you do choose to toast to 2013 next week, make sure your keys are tucked safely out of reach.
Or make sure a cab service or friend’s number is handy.
Or make sure someone can get you home safely without you having to risk your life — and the life of every person you encounter on the road — by driving under the influence.
There are countless campaigns aimed at decreasing the number of people driving under the influence. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over as a way to stop drunk driving. The campaign encourages people to print posters and put them up where others will see them; use social media to spread the word; make it a personal pledge to not drive drunk; and remind friends that cops are out there looking for drunk drivers.
Locally, officers with the Fairmont Police Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Department and West Virginia State Police will be increasing patrols over the holiday to help keep drivers safe and discourage motorists from getting behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking.
Of course, for anyone who gets charged with a DUI, heavy consequences await. If convicted, they will pay a hefty fine and spend some time behind bars. They will have their license suspended and possibly lose their job. Their insurance rates will skyrocket.
But they’ll also be alive, which is something many families can’t say about their loved ones.
According to the NHTSA, 9,878 people died in drunk-driving crashes last year. That translates to one every 53 minutes, and it’s likely that many of those happened on New Year’s Eve. In fact, the NHTSA says that in the month of December, an average of 25 people die every day due to drunk-driving accidents.
So while driving under the influence isn’t something that happens specifically around the holidays or for major events like the start of a new year, it is something that can have an irreversible impact on people. Just look at last year, when nearly 10,000 people died a needless death due to an irresponsible choice.
Don’t become a statistic this New Year’s Eve. Celebrate, of course, but do so wisely and in a responsible manner.
Anything else just isn’t worth it.