Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 20, 2013

Drive safely this week

Kokomo Tribune

---- — It's the season to be jolly, or so the carolers sing. Soon, it will be Christmas. Many of us will be traveling to celebrate the holiday with family and friends.

But too often, statistics show, drivers forget to put the party behind them when they get behind the wheel.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 760 people died as a result of drunk-driving-related traffic crashes during December 2011.

In fact, 29 percent of fatalities during the month of December 2007 to 2011 occurred in crashes that involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 or higher.

Sgt. Curt Durnil with the Indiana State Police confirmed with WFIU-FM last month the department does increase the number of officers on duty during the holidays. The officers are mainly used for traffic patrol.

You'll have company as you travel over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house. So don’t make a poor decision and be the cause of tragedy this week, the NHTSA says. Whether you’ve had one or one too many, hand the keys to a sober driver.

• Designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin; plan a way to get home safely at the end of the night.

• If you are impaired, call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member.

• Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.

• If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.

Nationwide in 2011, 32,367 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and 31 percent of those fatalities occurred in drunk-driving-related crashes.

In Indiana there were a total of 188,132 crashes in 2011, and 4,938 involved an alcohol impaired driver, resulting in 140 deaths, the state police report.

Please don’t create the next statistic. The best way to ensure your safety is to be responsible and plan ahead. If you are going to drink, designate a sober driver before the party starts, and encourage your friends and family to always do the same.