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Drive sober: End the 100 deadliest days safely

Aug. 17, 2017

Photo of a car crash scene.
​Photo: Sleep on a friend’s couch. Get a designated driver. Just do whatever you have to to avoid driving drunk. It could save your car from looking like this, but more importantly, it could save lives.

We’re all in the same boat right now: The kids just got out of school, we blinked, and now summer’s almost over. How did that happen? Fortunately there’s time to squeeze in a few last drops of fun before the weather turns chilly – just make sure you do so safely, especially when it comes to driving.

After all, more drunk-driving-related deaths happen over the summer months than at any other time. From 2011-2015, for example, there were 150 deaths from June through August, compared to 84 from December through February. And there are more DWI arrests per hour over the Labor Day holiday period than over any other holiday time frame.

That’s why more than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state are joining together to step up drunk driving enforcement. The campaign starts tomorrow, Aug. 18, and lasts through Sept. 3.

So what can you do to avoid the expense and heartbreak that comes with impaired driving? First and foremost, you can plan a sober ride. Speak up if you see a friend about to climb behind the wheel, even if it means letting them sleep on your couch. And even if you make the safest choices, be sure to wear your seatbelt. It’s the best line of defense against others on the road who may be driving drunk.

The good news is that we’ve learned a lot about drunk driving over the years, and changed our behavior accordingly – the numbers show it. In the 1960s, for example, drinking and driving accounted for more than half of all traffic deaths. In 2015, drunk driving-related deaths were 23 percent of all traffic fatalities. And as recently as 2007, there were nearly 39,000 DWI arrests; by 2015, the number had dropped to about 25,300.

Of course, even one drunk-driving related death is too many, so we still have work to do. You can help by planning a sober ride, standing up for a friend, and buckling your seatbelt. It’ll make the rest of your summer that much more enjoyable.