Make it ‘None for the road’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 27, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

An impaired driver kills someone every 30 minutes.

That’s about 50 people a day, 18,000 a year.

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Police Chief William A. Freeman is hopeful none of those fatal statistics will come from accidents in Suffolk during the upcoming holiday season.

The Suffolk Police Department is urging citizens to remember and practice &uot;None for the Road,&uot; a state program warning against drinking and driving, said Lt. Debbie J. George, the department’s spokeswoman.

&uot;We want to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving this holiday season,&uot; said George. &uot;The campaign is designed to make everyone more aware of the statistics behind drinking and driving.&uot;

In 2002, 375 people were killed and 8,465 injured during alcohol-related crashes in the state, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

&uot;While the holidays are a time to celebrate, it’s important to remember that there were nine fatalities and 956 injuries on Virginia roadways at Thanksgiving last year.&uot;

George said there were 12 fatalities and 1,134 injuries on Christmas Day 2002 and 10 fatalities and 723 injuries during New Years.&uot;

Virginia’s &uot;None for the Road&uot; committee encourages parents, teachers, businesses, community groups and religious organizations to help reduce the number of senseless deaths and injuries by raising public awareness on the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

Officer Tammy James, a member of the department’s Community Improvement Unit, said the &uot;None for the Road&uot; message must constantly be reinforced.

&uot;We have tougher laws and penalties and it is no longer socially acceptable to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink,&uot; she said. &uot;&uot;But innocent lives are still lost, especially during holidays and celebrations.&uot;

People can help make the holiday safe for party-goers by serving plenty of food at holiday gatherings and controlling the amount of alcohol served, James said. Also, a party host should stop serving alcohol before the party ends and provide guests with a sober ride home or ask them to stay overnight.

&uot;Let’s all do our part to reduce drunk and drugged driving for this and all holidays throughout the year,&uot; James said.

Impaired driving is defined as a reduction in the performance of critical driving tasks due to the effects of alcohol or other drugs, James added.