Impaired driving is heartbreaking for everyone involved

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We see the message on billboards, on television and in print. We hear it on the radio. We teach it to our kids through the DARE program. We talk about it as a general topic and most agree it’s preventable.

“It” is impaired driving and the simple steps to preventing it.

While the message of “Don’t Drink and Drive” is a year-long effort, over the holidays there is an uptick in media messages to the public to keep party-goers safe. But, like many New Year’s resolutions, keeping that in mind seems to fade as the confetti falls.

In addition, there seems to be a rise in fatalities and injuries where the driver and/or passengers were not wearing restraints.

Restraints won’t guarantee that a person will not be killed or seriously injured in an accident but they do increase the chances of survival.

Last weekend’s tragic single-vehicle is still under investigation but initial reports indicate none of the five people in the car were wearing seatbelts. Additionally, the driver has been charged with felony DUI.

We hear that the driver and his passengers were all friends. One minute they are out at 2 in the morning seemingly having fun. The next minute one is dead, the driver is in jail and the other passengers are coping with the experience.

This accident, and so many others like it, are heartbreaking for everyone involved. One family has lost a son. Another is seeing their son’s life exploding in an instant.

The ripple effect will go on for those involved.

The tragic part is that many accidents are entirely preventable.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of handing over the keys of a vehicle to a sober driver. If no one in the crowd is sober, call someone who is. If you know you and others are going to be drinking, make sure there is a designated driver.

Wear seatbelts/restraints. It may keep you from going through the windshield or being ejected from a vehicle, particularly if that vehicle is rolling over. You may be a perfectly sober driver or passenger but that won’t protect you from sheer physics should the vehicle run off the road, flip over or hit something such as a tree or embankment.

As parents, friends and family members, be willing to roll out of bed and provide sober transportation without complaint if you get that call in the wee hours of the morning. It is a lot better call than the ones many family members receive.

If your driver is not sober, be willing to stay behind and call for someone else to transport you home. Almost all of us have cell phones. Survival is just a few clicks away.

We are not sitting in judgment over last weekend’s accident but we do consider it to be a catalyst for everyone to make or renew their resolution to drive sober, wear restraints and to make sure their passengers do as well.

Our hearts break every time we learn of these tragedies and, as always, we hold these families in our prayers.

Answer our prayers.

Drive safe.

Drive sober.

Or don’t drive at all.