Heard this before? Hear it again: Don’t drive when you’re drunk
The holiday season prompts familiar warnings about the menace of drunken drivers.
An announcement that the federal government will spend $7 million through the holiday season to warn motorists about the dangers of drunken driving makes one wonder who has yet to hear the admonition.
Still, it's clear a lot of people haven't taken the message to heart.
Too many get behind the wheel after downing too many glasses of beer, wine, whiskey and margaritas even though they know full well that they shouldn't.
Too many of their friends and family members don't take away their car keys, call them a cab or find a safe way to get them home.
Thus, too many people end up dead, too many end up injured, too many children, wives, husbands and parents end up suffering the loss of a loved one.
Year after year -- through every season and event Americans find to celebrate with alcohol -- police, groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, government officials and others remind drivers to cut the booze if they plan to drive. Police set up roadblocks; ad campaigns fill newspapers, television and radio; bars and restaurants keep an eye on customers; and responsible mates designate drivers to ferry those who choose to drink.
Legislators pass strict measures in efforts to deter drunken driving. Those who break the laws are publicly identified and punished as examples to the rest of the community. Car makers even install devices that lock ignitions when a driver's breath indicates intoxication.
In spite of all these efforts, drunken drivers continue to kill themselves and thousands of blameless individuals, or cause them serious injury.
Around the holiday season fatalities tied to drunken driving spike. About 4 in 10 daily traffic deaths during New Year's and Christmas involve alcohol, although during the rest of the year, the numbers only drop to 3 in 10, indicating the problem knows no calendar.
The government estimates there will be about 430 alcohol-related traffic deaths through the holidays. Hawaii already has contributed two, the latest being a 22-year-old woman from Nanakuli who was killed when her pickup truck overturned off the H-1 freeway.
The other claimed the life of a celebrated island playwright, Lisa Matsumoto, in a head-on collision that seriously injured Cassie Olaivar, a 35-year-old woman with two young daughters. Olaivar found the grace to extend forgiveness to Matsumoto and her family, who also are suffering, but also said the accident "shouldn't have happened."
But it did, and such accidents will happen again and again unless drivers who've had too much to drink make the right choices.