Sobering stats send messagePublished 9:27pm Friday, December 28, 2012
There are many Beaufort County residents who will opt for a quiet New Year’s Eve at home next week.
They haven’t made that decision because they would rather watch television and see the ball drop in Times Square or because midnight is way past their bedtimes.
Many have chosen to stay home because it is safer than driving on streets full of revelers who have not realized that, as the one public-service announcement said, “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.” They will stay home because too many people will reason that home is not so far away or they are not that drunk.
Studies have found that your risks of being involved in a wreck increase with each drink you take. In fact, by the time you have had a six-pack, your chances of being in a drunken-driving wreck are up to 44 percent.
You are more likely to be in a drinking-and-driving accident during the holidays because drinking to excess is accepted at holiday parties. Relinquishing keys should be just as acceptable.
The fact is the number of North Carolina fatalities involving drunken driving is down. The past few years have seen about 70 fewer fatalities each year.
The drop is not because drunken driving is down, but because law enforcement has gotten tougher.
North Carolina has some of the strictest drinking-and-driving statutes in the country. Punishment for first-offenders can include up to two years in jail and fines of up to $4,000. Habitual offenders face tougher charges.
Another factor has been the ubiquity of cellphones. Reports of drunken driving have gone up. If you suspect someone is driving while intoxicated, get the license-plate information and call the local Highway Patrol or police department.