What’s it actually worth

Published 7:19 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Operation Firecracker. The name is misleading, because it sounds like a crackdown on illegal fireworks. It’s not. It’s a campaign launched this time of year, every year, by the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program — a branch of the “Booze & Lose It” campaign targeting impaired drivers over the national holiday.

There will be sobriety checkpoints in Beaufort County this week. Every county is having them, because law enforcement in every county in the state is committed to keeping those who have been drinking off the roads.

So far in 2018, there have been 135 deaths in alcohol-related accidents in North Carolina. In 2016, the total number of people killed in alcohol-related accidents in North Carolina totaled 596.

Sometimes the fatalities are the impaired drivers; other times, these statistics represent  innocent victims. All of them are avoidable.

Drinking and driving isn’t just about vehicles and roadways, however. Plenty of people are celebrating the national holiday by getting out on boats on the river, where hydrating might include quaffing alcoholic beverages. Some might have the false belief that drinking and boating is safe, but those people would be wrong. In May, several young people’s lives were shattered in a boating accident on a Kansas lake. They’d all been drinking; three of the college students died. It’s just as illegal, and lethal, to drink and pilot a boat as it is to drink and drive.

This week will also see sobriety checkpoints on the water, conducted by N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Those who meet or exceed a .08 blood-alcohol concentration will be arrested just like any drunk driver.

The price of drinking and driving, on the road or on the water, is high: legal fees, insurance hikes, loss of transportation potentially equaling loss of income. The price of being in one of those alcohol-related accidents is much higher — a life.