Drunk driving great concern, danger nationally

Published 6:08 pm Monday, December 18, 2017

It seems only fitting that this time of year the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety recognizes officers who made significant strides in reducing potentially fatal accidents caused by impaired drivers.

This week, KOHS honored 200 law enforcement officers, including one from Clark County, for their efforts to target impaired drivers.

Deputy Matt Eversole of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office was recognized for making the most impaired-driving arrests in the agency.

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About one in three traffic deaths in the U.S. involve a drunk driver, and in 2009, alcohol-impaired drivers caused nearly 11,000 deaths in the U.S. Most of those deaths were of people between ages 21 and 34.

In 2014, 1.5 percent of adults in Kentucky reported driving after drinking too much in the past month. And in 2010, U.S. adults drank too much and got behind the wheel approximately 112 million times, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Of the 761 Kentucky fatalities caused by automobile accident in 2015, 192 of those — or 25 percent — were caused by alcohol-impaired driving.

Every day, 28 people in the U.S. die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 51 minutes.

The annual cost alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.

This is not just a U.S. problem or a Kentucky problem. In Clark County, there were 1,007 DUIs reported between 2008 and 201, according to KOHS.

KOHS runs campaigns annually to promote sober driving. The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday enforcement campaign began this week and runs through Jan. 1.  The belief is that high-visibility enforcement reduces imprinted driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.

Although most reports indicate impaired driving rates have declined in recent years, it is obvious this is still a serious problem, even in our community — the fact that the state would even need to recognize officers for making these arrests is a sign of the problem.

It is important that we tackle this problem aggressively, which is why we commend not only Deputy Eversole, but all of our local law enforcement officers and agencies for the work they do to keep our roads safe.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws in place to protect the public from drunk drivers. Yet, the millions of people who drink and drive continue to put everyone on the road in danger.  This is a topic that gets “preached” often, but it’s an important one — particularly this time of year when people are celebrating more often than usual.

Officers play an important role in reducing this risky behavior, but so can you. The CDC offers these common sense tips about how individuals can help combat the problem of impaired driving:

— Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.

— Before drinking, designate a non-drinking driver when with a group.

— If out drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi.

— Don’t let friends drink and drive.

— Choose not to binge drink and help others not to do it.

— Report confirmed or suspected impaired drivers by calling police immediately.