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Safe Kids, Safe Communities urges people to drive sober

| December 26, 2006 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

The New Year is beckoning to us, full of promise and hope.

The Safe Kids, Safe Communities Coalition of Lincoln County is encouraging people to make an important New Year's resolution this year. To always drive sober.

Most people don't intend to drive impaired, but too many find themselves at the end of the night without a sober designated driver. Unfortunately, many of these drivers convince themselves and friends that they are competent to drive with the comment, "I'm OK. I'm just buzzed."

What they don't realize is that their judgment is impaired and they aren't in the best position to make a sound decision as to their driving abilities.

That's why the members of the Safe Kids, Safe Communities coalition encourage people to designate a sober driver before the drinking begins.

Law enforcement will be supporting the designated driver campaign with additional patrol officers to detect and arrest impaired drivers for Montana's roads.

In Montana, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death. Last year, there were 2,182 alcohol-related crashes in the state. From those, 229 died and 1,623 were seriously injured.

Closer to home in Lincoln County, there were 47 crashes, two fatal crashes, two fatalities and 50 injuries making Lincoln County's alcohol related crashes 14.7 percent higher than Missoula and Flathead counties - two of Montana's larger counties.

If 229 people were killed in one place at one time in Montana, we would all be outraged. The public would demand immediate action to prevent a repeat occurrence. But, as the numbers trickle in over the course of 12 months, the impact is somehow lost - except to those who know someone killed.

Deaths by motor vehicle crash are needless and senseless. So make a New Year's resolution that could save your life, or the life of someone you love. Drive sober. Every trip. Every time. And always buckle up.

Julie Cole

Lincoln County Safe Kids,

Safe Communities