With the holidays approaching, it is necessary to remind everyone about the dangers of impaired driving. In 2009, exactly 12,998 people were killed in alcohol-impaired collisions, while many others were injured in the United States. That means on average about 36 people are killed daily because of an intoxicated driver, or roughly two people per hour. More than 37,000 people in the U.S., including more than 200 people in Socorro County, were arrested for DWI in 2009, and out of every 200 to 2,000 alcohol impaired drivers on the road, only one is arrested. Moreover, while the number of alcohol related deaths have decreased, impaired driving is still the leading cause of death for people under the age of 30.
The winter holiday season is an especially crucial time of the year to address the issue of impaired driving and its impact upon communities. With the proliferation of celebrations, family reunions, college friends gathering, and holiday parties, the potential risk of impaired driving becomes even greater.
In order to create a real difference in the way the Socorro County community views impaired driving, we need your help. Impaired driving is not just a problem for the courts or the victims, but it is a problem for all of us. When impaired drivers take the road, they not only put themselves at risk, they put our lives, our children, our friends, our grandparents and our society at risk, too. In addition to the physical and emotional damage they inflict as a result of their careless behavior, impaired drivers place a financial burden on the community in the form of court costs, emergency services, the repair of public property, and more.
What can Socorro County residents do to help?
First, do not drive after drinking. Encourage safe driving behaviors among family, friends, and coworkers. You can do this by volunteering to be a designated driver, planning to ride home with a sober driver, staying put, and plan ahead. Support law enforcement efforts to rid roads of impaired drivers and encourage their continued enforcement of impaired driving laws to protect your family, friends, and our community at large. No one wants to face the New Year with a loss of a loved one, and if we treat impaired driving as the grave problem that it is then hopefully no one will have to.
The theme of the state’s winter superblitz is “Working Together Toward a Safe and Sober Holiday”. The campaign will include increased law enforcement operations, new radio and television advertisements, and “Safe and Sober Holiday” kits to be handed out to the community in anticipation of the holiday season. We hope to meet up with drivers and give a small gift of gratitude for making the decision to stay safe and sober this holiday season.
If you would like any alcohol or drug related information, please feel free to contact the Socorro County DWI Program for the Prevention of Substance Abuse at 575-838-2208.