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June 30, 2016

Enjoy a Safe Independence Day: Don't Drink and Drive on the Fourth of July — or Any Day

Penny_headstone-20110704145919Drinking and Driving Kills

According to the Center for Disease Control, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2014, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.

Of those, 64 percent involved a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. If you can’t do math in your head, that’s 6,391 deaths directly attributable to so much celebrating as to be over the national legal limit. Nearly 6,400 too many.

Penny_downingMaybe this information may seem too personal, but it is a heartfelt message nonetheless: This Fourth of July would be my own mother’s 75th birthday, except that she was killed 47 years ago by a drunk driver.

On a rainy night in January 1969, she was waiting at an intersection when another car sped through the red light and hit her car head-on, killing her instantly, leaving my father a widow and her four children without their mother. I was barely four years old, but my brother and sisters were old enough to remember the policeman who came to our home to tell us the bad news. They also remember her funeral, though I have no memories of the event, or any of my Mama who was taken away before she even turned 28 years old.

Preventing Drunk Driving Goes Beyond Holiday Celebrations

Of those 9,967 fatalities involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher in 2014, 6,391 were drunk drivers and the rest were either their passengers or other innocent people they hit (1,511 were their passengers, 1,241 were occupants of other vehicles, and 824 were pedestrians, bicyclists, or other nonoccupants). On the Fourth of July, and every day, don’t drink and drive. Visit and make a pledge to drive only while drug and alcohol-free. If you are planning to drink, then don't drink and drive. Always ensure you have a safe way to get home: use a taxi, call a ride-sharing program like Lyft or Uber, or call a family member.

At a gathering where there is somebody who has had too much to drink? Consider using the following tips to help keep that drunk driver off the road:

–If it’s a good friend, suggest to them that they’ve had too much to drink and it would be better if someone else drove or if they took a cab.

–If it’s somebody you don’t know well, talk to their friends and ask them to persuade them to hand over the keys.

–If you don’t want to create a confrontation, find their keys while they are preoccupied and take them away. It’s likely they will think they’ve lost them and will be forced to find another mode of transportation.

Find ways you can help stop drunk driving at

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