Christmas and New Year’s rank with Thanksgiving as the holidays that put the most people on the road every year. Millions of motorists and their families drive hundreds of miles to reach the homes of loved ones and enjoy the most festive time of the year. And many of those motorists will be traveling home today — on Christmas Eve.
Unfortunately, not every driver who gets behind the wheel during the holidays is starting out with a clear head. There are drivers who drink alcohol and decide that they can get to their next destination without any trouble. Too often, a decision muddled by alcohol or drugs leads to tragedy. During December 2010, 25 people were killed in drunk driving crashes per day on average, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
To combat impaired driving during the holiday season, Community Connections, Inc., in partnership with the Mercer County Creating Opportunities for Youth Coalition, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions,) MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), local law enforcement agencies and businesses recently kicked off the annual Tie One On For Safety campaign.
Tie One On For Safety calls on motorists to tie a red ribbon to their vehicles as a show of support of safe and sober driving during the holiday season. Drunk driving deaths are 100 percent preventable, and the campaign helps to remind people of this fact. Drunk driving deaths are prevented when people take a few minutes to stop and think. Designated drivers, taxi rides, and staying overnight at a hotel or motel are helpful. Taking the car keys of an intoxicated individual is another step. A person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs of any kind has no business driving. Reaction time is slowed and judgment is blurred by even modest drinking.
Even avoiding alcohol if you know that you will have to drive home is a good step toward safety. There is no rule that says you must have alcohol in order to have holiday cheer. The safest time to drink alcohol responsibly is when you know that a designated driver is waiting for you or when you don’t have to drive anywhere later.
The holidays should be a time for joy and sharing, not a tragedy caused because somebody decided to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Local troopers, deputies and police will be watching for impaired motorists this Christmas and New Year’s. Jail and fines are not a welcome part of the holiday season, either. The best way to avoid a tragedy, a ticket or fines for Christmas is to avoid drinking and driving.
Tying a red ribbon to your vehicle will not prevent all drinking and driving, but keeping the Tie One On For Safety campaign in mind will help you and others remember to avoid a DUI crash. Free red ribbons are available through the county. Call Community Connections at 304-913-4956 to learn where these ribbons are available. Please Tie One On For Safety this holiday season.