The holidays are a notoriously grim time on America's roads. Too many people drink too much and then drive without giving proper thought to the logistics of getting home safely.
Law enforcement agencies and safety advocates such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving try their best to respond to the challenge. Here in Minnesota, MADD is teaming up with the Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety and the State Patrol as part of a national effort called Tie One on for Safety. Members of the public are encouraged to tie red ribbons to their vehicles to signify a commitment to safe, sober, buckled-up driving.
The statistics cited in the Star Tribune news item announcing the annual campaign speak of a culture with a drinking problem. In Minnesota alone, there were 3,931 alcohol-related crashes last year. These crashes killed 141 people and injured 2,592.
Of course, the problem isn't only alcohol; it also includes other drugs. The I in DWI stands, after all, for impaired, and drivers can be impaired by drugs as well as alcohol. Sometimes, sadly, they are impaired by both.
It's pretty scary to consider how many impaired drivers are out on the roads - not just at the holidays, but throughout the year. One in seven Minnesota drivers has a DWI conviction.
1 in 7!