Hillsborough County leads the entire state in DUI fatalities. Mothers Against Drunk Driving of West Central Florida’s 34th annual Candlelight Vigil of Hope & Remembrance held a vigil last week to highlight the problem and bring solutions to a growing problem.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Despite public service announcements and alternative means of transportation to thwart it, drunk driving remains the leading cause of roadway deaths, according to MADD.
Nationally, on average, 30 alcohol-related driving deaths occur each day, or about one every 50 minutes. Every two minutes, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash.
In Florida, Hillsborough County leads the state in driver-impaired fatalities, according to statistics compiled by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. In 2016, of 546 crashes involving impaired drivers, 271 victims were injured and 42 people died.
In Pinellas County, impaired drivers were involved in 344 crashes, with 189 injuries and 21 deaths.
Wrong-way drivers in Hillsborough and Pinellas accounted for 119 of those collisions.”
The increased patrols and public service announcements aren’t working. It’s time citizens start taking personal responsibility, especially this time of year, for their behavior.
The Highway Patrol in the Tampa Bay area “leads the state in DUI arrests,’’ Gaskins said. “But there are not enough officers to be strung out on every mile of the road. There is nothing more the Highway Patrol, the sheriff or police can do,” Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins said. “People are making bad decisions.”
That’s a pretty grim assessment but accurate. If you’re going to go out drinking, make plans for alternative transportation beforehand. Don’t wait until you’ve had a few to determine if you’re able to drive. That’s too late, you’re judgment is already impaired. Call a friend, call a taxi, call Uber. Just don’t drive. It’s really as simple as that. You may be saving your own life or the life of some innocent victim. The consequences just aren’t worth it.