OPINION: Keeping the roads safe

Published 6:45 am Saturday, November 27, 2021

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A recent email claimed Texas is the deadliest state for holiday driving. I am not surprised as there has not been a day in over 20 years without a death on Texas roads.

According to the email, the HelpAdvisor.com research team analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to find the scope of fatal car crashes that occur on the three days surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Day in each state, from 2015 to 2019 (the most recent data available).

In total, Texas had 298 fatal accidents around Christmas and New Year’s Day from 2015-19. Over 44% of those deadly accidents in the state involved a driver who was impaired by alcohol and had a BAC above the legal limit, which is the third highest percentage in the U.S. and well above the national average of 33%.

One death on the roads is one too many, but 298 is a tragedy.

We are heading into the busiest time of the year as families return home from Thanksgiving trips and start the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and hopping from one party to another throughout December.

Remember, as you get behind the wheel, others are also in a hurry and on the same type time crunch as you. Take the time to pay attention to the drivers around you and be patient.

A wreck due to distractions, fatigue or worse, being under the influence, will not get you anywhere faster. Well, maybe a fast trip to jail if you were under the influence.

Every single day, there is a wreck somewhere in Orange County. This year, can we all strive harder to stay safer on the roads?

Leave a little earlier so you are not feeling rushed against the clock.

Do not try to pull all-nighters trying to get ready for the next event, party or holiday. It really will be OK if you do not get all nine pies baked. Being rested before getting behind the wheel of a car can help ensure you arrive at your destination alive.

Select a designated driver before you go to a party. Turn your keys over to the host of the party, if need be, to prevent getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. Buzzed driving is still driving under the influence. It is a mistake which can lead to destroying dozens of people’s lives. You may think it could never happen to you, but there is a person who thought the same thing when they stopped for two beers on the way home. The person swerved to miss something in the road (a ball) and struck a five-year-old child instead, killing him. It is not an easy circumstance to work through as the driver, a witness or a family member of anyone involved.

So, this holiday season, take the time to take care of yourself and drive safely.

Make this truly a happy holiday season by driving carefully and safely.

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com