DUI deaths far too frequent

Published 9:26 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Last week, Suffolk lost a native son when 23-year-old Hunter Richardson was killed when an alleged drunk driver hit him and a friend as they were walking across a street in Virginia Beach.

His death was not only tragic, senseless and potentially criminal, but it also was far too common.

During the holiday season, the number of people who drink and drive increases as some people enjoy the holiday spirit — or spirits — far too much.

Suffolk Chief of Police Tom Bennett, during the lighting of the annual Safety Tree on North Main Street Tuesday, said his department was going to be more “proactive” this holiday season in targeting those drivers who decide to drink before getting behind the wheel.

As part his efforts, Bennett said his department plans to hold DUI checkpoints in the city during the holiday season.

But while the department’s efforts are appreciated and may very well discourage some from getting behind the wheel after drinking, it is the peer pressure and constructive influence we all have that will make the biggest difference.

As we join others at holiday parties, office events and the like, it is important that we take care of each other, offer rides to those who have had too much to drink and take away the keys from those who insist on driving anyway.

Hunter’s death should stand as a constant reminder that often times, the deaths and injuries that come from DUI related accidents are not those who were drinking in the first place.

It is important we fully support the efforts of the Suffolk Police Department and the Pilot Club of Suffolk in their efforts to cut down the number of fatalities this year.

This season is a time to celebrate time with friends and families, and should never be a time to mourn the loss of loved one to a senseless accident.