According to data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 774 people were killed in California in 2011 as a result of alcohol-impaired-driver motor vehicle crashes — 28 percent of the 2,791 total traffic fatalities in the state.
“This time of year, most of us are making plans for gatherings and celebrations with family and friends,” said Shelley Rogers, development associate of community outreach for Community Recovery Resources. “But sadly, there are 10,000 people who won’t be home for the holidays because they lost their lives this year in substance-impaired driving crashes in the United States.”
The number of accidents is not only a result of driving under the influence of alcohol but also pharmaceutical drugs, said Grass Valley Police Capt. Rex Marks.
“People need to be aware of not even just so much alcohol but pharmaceuticals as well,” Marks said. “There is an increased incidence of those driving with prescription medications exceeding recommended doses, which tends to lead to serious-injury accidents and such.”
The Grass Valley Police Department has participated in setting up traffic checkpoints and saturations with the Office of Traffic Safety since 2005 until this year, when funding for the grant program was insufficient, Marks said.
“We’ve always been the administrative agency, and we’re not involved because we don’t have the staffing to adequately fund our program,” Marks said. “Maybe in the future, the state will have the funding available. We certainly hope so. If they do, we may be in a position to get back into it.”
Drivers should still avoid drinking and driving, Marks said.
“Have a designated driver,” he said. “There is no sense in going and partying to that level that you risk the safety of yourself and others.”
In order to deter people from drinking and driving, CoRR is teaming up with Gold Country Cab Company and Donald’s Roseville Taxi to provide vouchers for rides home for those in Grass Valley, Nevada City, Penn Valley and Roseville.
The Traffic Safety Coalition, a not-for-profit organization committed to making roads safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians, is encouraging people to have fun but refrain from drinking and driving.
“Every day, 20 to 30 people are killed (in alcohol-impaired-driver vehicle accidents), affecting not just the person killed, but the family as well, and it’s something so preventable,” said Traffic Safety Coalition Co-Chair Paul Oberhauser, whose daughter was killed in 2002 by a driver who ran a red light and crashed into her car.
“Driving is a privilege, not a right, and if we don’t speed, don’t run red lights and don’t drive drunk, a lot of innocent lives would be saved.”
“Holidays are times for celebration and travel, both of which should be happy occasions,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety, in a press release.
“Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can turn those happy times into tragedy in an instant. Plan ahead, designate a sober driver or arrange for a taxi to ensure you arrive home safe for the holidays.”
There are some resources that are being offered as alternatives to drinking and driving, including the AAA Tipsy Tow for a free tow home of up to 10 miles between 6 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday, which can be contacted at (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP), and the Be My DD program, where a personal driver will meet you in advance at your location, take you to your destination, wait with your car and transport you back to your original location.
Be My DD can be contacted at (877) 823-6933 and reservations can be made at www.bemydd.com/our_services.
In the Sacramento area, there is also Sober Free Cab Ride Home by Berg Injury Lawyers. If you call Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento to be picked up from a restaurant, hotel or bar within downtown Sacramento and mention Berg Injury Lawyers, a cab ride of up to $35 will be covered from 10 p.m. Monday through 3 a.m. Tuesday. The Yellow Cab number is (916) 444-2222.
There is also a “Not Driving” Instagram contest from the California Office of Traffic Safety, where participants take a picture of themselves not driving to be entered to win cab fare for a year.
The website for the contest is at www.facebook.com/CaliforniaOTS/app_523433157 674439.
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4230.