Letter to the editor: Impaired driving still a concern

Have you noticed that reporting and reaction to crashes caused by impaired drivers on our roadways has become nonchalant? Has it become socially acceptable and we expect to hear about fatalities and significant injuries due to crashes caused by impaired drivers? Crashes that are 100 percent preventable. Not many things in life are 100 percent bets, but driving impaired is one of the few we can make the choice not to do – 100 percent of the time.

Here are the known statistics for Minnesota in 2013; from the DPS data records.

2013 known alcohol-related statistics:

• 3,669 crashes.

• 117 deaths and 2,300 injuries.

•Estimated economic cost: $235,411,700.

I think part of the problem is we see these as only numbers and unless you have been directly affected, they may not register as bad as they really are.

It was once presented to me in this way: Think about the newscasts, local and national, when there is a salmonella or E. coli outbreak, another serious situation; but focus on the attention it gets over impaired driving and the lives lost and injuries that linger well after a crash caused by an impaired driver. Have we come to simply accept impaired driver caused crashes?

And remember, impaired driving is more than just alcohol, it is also prescription and illegal drugs, and, in this author’s opinion, we could include driving overly fatigued/sleep deprived.

This is all preventable and we can make that choice. So the next time you are out with family and friends, you have that choice; choose to not drive impaired, it could be your family member’s or friend’s life you are protecting. — Tom Koteles, Elk River (Editor’s note: Koteles is a volunteer with the Sherburne County Safe Roads Coalition.)