Our View: Good decisions can save lives

Driving under the influence. After decades of campaigns to stop it, DUI remains a common occurrence and charge across the U.S.

Over the weekend, at least three possible DUIs were reported to police in Winchester — that number or more are not uncommon to find in local police reports. That doesn’t take into account the dozens of people who likely drank to some extent and got behind the wheel of a vehicle this weekend and didn’t get caught.

Drunk driving is a deadly epidemic that takes the lives of more than 10,000 people each year, on average. It’s a problem that should be taken seriously, considering instances are on the rise.

In 2015, 10,265 people died in drunk-driving crashes, an increase of more than 3 percent from 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The casualties aren’t just to those of legal drinking age either. In 2015, the NHTSA reports, 181 children 14 or younger were killed in cases involving drunk driving.

Instances of drunk driving and subsequent accidents typically increase around holidays — including Memorial Day, Fourth of July and the approaching Labor Day holiday in the summer months.

Alcohol consumption impairs your thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination. At a .08 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), your crash risk increases exponentially. It is illegal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher.

However, even if a driver is under the legal limit, they are impaired while under the influence. NHTSA reports that with even a .02 BAC, there is a decline in visual functions and the ability to multitask. At .05, drivers would experience reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and slower response to emergency situations.

It’s a lot more than swerving through lanes of traffic. Drinking and driving can be fatal to the perpetrator and other innocent travelers on the road.

And it’s a costly offense. Drinking and driving could result loss of license, vehicle, arrest, fines, higher insurance rates and more. If you kill someone while driving drunk, you could face manslaughter charges.

All are steep punishment for a bad decision that could have been easily avoided.

We are approaching the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, beginning Aug. 19 through Sept. 5.

At this point in society, it’s less about education and more about making selfless and responsible decisions. Don’t get behind the wheel if you are intoxicated. Consider the lives of others. Don’t they hold more value than a night out of fun that ends with a tragedy?

Does that drive home after a night of drinking or even a few drinks at dinner mean more than tremendous costs associated with a DUI-involved incident? We think not.

Spread awareness, but most of all, just make good decisions.