Our View: Don’t drive drunk, drugged or distracted

Published 3:47 pm Thursday, December 1, 2016

Each year, President Barack Obama proclaims December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, to highlight the nation’s commitment to promoting safe driving habits and preventing fatal accidents caused by impaired drivers.

The recognition shines a light on the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs — including prescribed medications — and distracted driving.

“Recently, the number of traffic crash fatalities caused by impaired driving has unfortunately increased — last year, preventable alcohol-related driving fatalities accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities,” Obama said in his proclamation. “Consumption of alcohol by drivers, even those who are of legal drinking age, is highly dangerous, and drug use, including prescription drug use, can also harm judgment, perception, and the motor skills used when driving. Distracted driving — including eating, tending to passengers and using a cell phone — can also be dangerous and is equally preventable.”

About 1 in 3 traffic deaths in the U.S. involve an impaired driver.

From 2003-2012, 2,041 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Kentucky.

Nearly every day, people in our own community are arrested for driving under the influence. Often the results are tragic and fatal.

The decision to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while you are impaired, distracted or even tired can be life changing not only for you but the other innocent drivers on the road who are injured or killed in accidents.

In Kentucky, it is illegal to drive with a blood or breath alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.

Penalties range from fines of $200 to $1,000, jail time from two days to 12 months or more, court-mandated substance abuse treatment, license suspension from one month to five years and community service.

It is illegal for anyone to text while driving, and that includes answering emails.

Text messaging fines are $25 (first offense) and then $50, plus court costs.

The consequences just don’t seem worth it.

We encourage you to always wear your safety belt, don’t drive drunk or drugged, put your cell phones down while driving and pay attention for other distracted drivers.

If you must drink, designate a sober driver, call a cab or driving service like Uber or celebrate at home.

Don’t let this holiday season be marred by tragedies that are entirely preventable if we are just responsible drivers.