1999-06-30 / Editorials

Free From Alcohol

To The Editor:

The upcoming Fourth of July Celebration offers an ideal time to talk about freedom. We may not often consider some freedoms—the freedom to travel safe from the threat of alcohol and other impaired driving, freedom from the threat of a violent, life-threatening traffic crash and freedom from fear of resulting injury or even death.

These freedoms may be the ones you and I take for granted, but for the more than 17,000 Americans who are killed each year in alcohol-related traffic crashes, they are freedoms destroyed. And for the more than one million who are injured each year, some permanently, they are freedoms denied.

Out of the 635 traffic fatalities which occurred during the Fourth of July holiday of 1995, 311 were alcohol-related. Statistics show more deaths occur during this holiday due to alcohol-related traffic crashes than any other holiday. In order to reduce the risk and number of these crashes, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) strongly promotes the use of sobriety checkpoints.

One of the most effective ways to protect people from the dangers of impaired driving is the use of sobriety checkpoints. Sobriety checkpoints help the police detect and deter impaired drivers, and present only a minimal delay to travelers, while they help raise awareness of enforcement of DWI/DUI laws. Along with such groups as the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Transportation Safety Board,the National Sheriff’s Association, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and many others, MADD wants to see this enforcement tool more extensively and frequently utilized.

This year, MADD is encouraging all law enforcement agencies to utilize this life-saving measure, especially during the week of July 1st to 7th. We’re hoping to see a safer, happier July 4th as a result of increased checkpoint use.

One of the best protections against death or injury in an alcohol or drug-related crash is safety belt use. Sobriety checkpoints also provide a highly effective opportunity for police to remind travelers to "buckle up."

Please support our law enforcement officers as they implement the use of sobriety checkpoints. We are asking citizens of our community to contact local police and encourage them to use checkpoints, especially during the upcoming July 4th holiday. Let them know that freedom from danger on our highways is a priority for our community, and that you value their efforts to protect us from the unnecessary tragedy of impaired driving crashes.

Wishing safe travel for you,

Sincerely,

Vicki LaVista

Queens County Coordinator

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

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