With the holiday season in full swing, everyone needs to remember that this is the time when the most alcohol-related automobile accidents occur. Last week, the Maryland Impaired Driving Coalition held its third annual Maryland Remembers Ceremony. The Coalition, along with the State Highway Administration, makes a concerted effort to stress alcohol-related crashes and the resulting fatalities this time of year. This ceremony honors those who have passed due to such crashes.
In 2006, legislation was passed that toughens sanctions against repeat offenders and those who refuse a Breathalyzer test but are later found to have a high blood-alcohol content. There has also been increased spending on media publicity to make people aware of the effects of drinking and driving. Also, more than $890,000 in supplemental enforcement funds for sobriety checkpoints and DUI patrols was spent.
A shocking 38 percent of the traffic fatalities are the result of alcohol-related accidents. There were 235 fatalities which were recorded as caused by drinking and driving. On the bright side, this number is down 18 percent from 2004. Nancy Kelly, IDC Legislative Committee Vice Chair, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving attributes this decline to increased awareness and aggressive police work. The romantic in me hopes that it is also attributable to a rising tide of common sense.
As regular readers know, the Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer Blog is not a place for trite preaching of what people should do when everybody already knows what is obviously the right thing to do. But I’m asking for a pass with the understanding that I promise not to start going all Oprah on you. If everyone would just keep an eye out this holiday season for people who should not be driving, a ton of lives could be saved. Who, when called on the carpet for being unfit to drive after one too many egg nogs, would refuse a ride home, a cab called, a night on a friend’s couch? So, in the immortal words of Sergeant Phil Esterhaus (Hill Street Blues): “Hey hey hey hey, let’s be careful out there.”