Drunk or distracted driving can change your and others lives in an instant

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Saturday’s mock wreck at the Walmart parking lot brought to the forefront the dangers of drinking and driving to area teens as they prepare to get ready for the prom season, which starts this week.

It’s a lesson the organizers of the event and the parents hope will be imprinted in the minds of their sons and daughters as they go out and enjoy their special evenings.

As Tawni Basden, youth safety program coordinator for Children’s of Mississippi, an affiliate of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, brought out, “The No. 1 killer of teens in this country is car crashes, and Mississippi is fifth in the nation.”

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That’s a statistic young people and adults need to remember, but the impact of distracted or drunk driving is something that needs to be remembered by everyone, not just teens and their parents.

Impaired or distracted driving is a deadly danger to us all.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, every day 28 people die in an alcohol-related vehicle crash — that’s one every 53 minutes. In 2015, an estimated 35,200 people died in motor vehicle wrecks. According to a CBS News report, 10,265 of those deaths were due to alcohol-related crashes.

Those are numbers that should make us sit up and take notice. The real tragedy is those deaths could have been prevented had one of those drivers decided not to stop off and have that quick beer or “one more for the road” at their favorite bar, or called for a ride home.

We’ve driven on city streets and highways and glanced at the car next to us to see someone texting on their smart phone, or watched a driver have an animated conversation with a passenger and not watching the road.

It’s not like we’ve never been told about the perils and dangers of drunk or distracted driving. It’s preached to us, and the laws are on the books. It’s time we began listening. There is no excuse.

Police Chief Walter Armstrong put it bluntly Saturday.

“One bad act can have a disastrous effect on so many people,” he said. “We don’t like to have to go knock on someone’s door to tell them their lives have been changed because of someone’s bad act.”

It’s time we paid attention, used common sense and eliminated the bad acts.