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Please don't drink and drive!

Estherville News Editorial

August 30, 2015
Estherville News

\This Labor Day, resolve to not drive drunk.

Maybe you remember MADD Mothers Against Drunk Driving when it was in the news in the 1980s after Candy Lightner turned her grief over her daughter, Cari's death into action. Cari was killed in a crash with a repeat drunk driving offender. Lightner started the national organization in the new year, 1980, exclaiming, "Our goal is to end the 1980s with no more drunk driving deaths." The first regional chapter of MADD was founded by Beckie Brown of Florida on Labor Day, 1980 after her son, Marcus, 18, was killed by a 19-year-old drunk driver during Labor Day weekend, 1979. Thirty-five years later, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the number of people killed by drunk drivers has been cut in half from 21,000 in 1980 to 10,332 in 2012, the latest year for which statistics are available. That's still far too many preventable deaths.

Law enforcement agencies in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota seek to crack down on drunk drivers and have launched an educational campaign to run through September 7. "Seat belt enforcement goes hand-in-hand with DWI patrols, and with the primary seat belt law, officers will use their ability to stop a motorist for a seat belt violation to their advantage in their effort to take impaired drivers off the roads, so buckle up," said Trooper Vince Kurtz, Iowa State Patrol. "This law is especially meaningful as a vast majority of these impaired drivers killed in crashes are also not belted."

In 2014, Iowa State Patrol had 1.450 OWIs. In the last five years (2010-2014) there were 1,215 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in the three states and 239 people killed in 2014 alone.

"These are sad, tragic and preventable deaths," said Sgt. Troy Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol, "and the fact is, if you're driving drunk, it's much better news if you're stopped and arrested for DWI than causing a preventable tragedy."

Beyond making the choice to not drive drunk or impaired, this is what each of us can do to prevent drunk driving crashes:

n Plan for a safe ride

n Offer to be a designated driver or offer pick ups

n Buckle up the best defense against a drunk driver.

n Report erratic driving

The goal is still zero drunk driving deaths. The Toward Zero Deaths program originated in Minnesota. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response.



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