Avoid drunk driving during the holidays

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Every holiday season the rates of drunk and distracted driving inevitably rise. They increase so much, in fact, that the Mississippi Highway Patrol typcially organizes saturation patrols and checkpoints. That is the case for this upcoming weekend, where troopers will be part of a “2018 Memorial Day Travel Enforcement Period” starting Friday afternoon. This enforcement period is a part of the Department’s safety initiative, “Drive to Survive,” in which additional troopers will be on state and federal highways to cut down on accidents and distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, “Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system – anything that takes your attention away from the task of driving.”

According to the site, texting is the most dangerous form of distracted driving. It is estimated that during the day, nearly half a million drivers use their cellphones while they are driving. Distracted driving was the cause for 3,450 deaths in 2016. A total of 391,000 people were injured that same year because of distracted driving.

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Driving under the influence is one of the biggest culprits behind fatal vehicle collisions. According to the website, someone dies every 50 minutes in the United States because of drunk driving. The total damages incurred because of drunk driving were estimated to cost at total of $44 billion in 2016.

In addition to possibly being involved in a serious or fatal accident, drunk driving can lead to jail time and fees of more than $10,000, the website states. National holidays, such as Memorial Day, are meant to be fun, positive occasions. Because so many people will be driving across the country to visit family, the rates of drunk and distracted driving will likely increase. Encourage friends and family members to exercise caution this Memorial Day weekend to avoid any unforeseen accidents.