Accidents likely over holidays

Published 10:30 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On Dec. 7, 58-year-old Leon Dale McFall died in a single-vehicle accident along Portsmouth Boulevard, becoming the city’s first traffic fatality of the holiday season.

But, unfortunately, the odds are against McFall’s death being the only one of the season that stretches through Dec. 31.

At the beginning of the month, Suffolk city officials joined representatives from the Suffolk Pilot Club in lighting the annual Safety Tree, located on North Main Street across from the Wal-Mart Shopping Center.

The club’s hope — and prayer — is that every light on the tree remains green throughout the season. But, with McFall’s death, one light now shines red.

As more and more people take to the roads to head off to holiday destinations over the next few weeks, the risk of further tragedy increases. In fact, it is this time around the holidays that the Virginia State Police will soon issue their customary cautions, pleading with motorists to buckle up, obey the speed limit and drive sober.

However, without fail, fatal accidents happen across the state during the Christmas holidays. Most of the time, those fatalities aren’t in Suffolk, thanks to the tireless work of our police and emergency medical personnel.

Sadly, however, one light on the Safety Tree already has turned red. We hope Suffolk makes it through the rest of the season without another fatal accident.

The prayers of those dedicated Suffolk Pilot Club members can be answered if we simply take our time this holiday season. Those fatalities do not have to happen if we refuse to drink and drive and insist that others in our care do the same.

This holiday season does not need to have any more families mourning the loss of a loved one due to a tragic traffic accident. This holiday season does not need to be remembered as a time when a loved one was lost due to the senselessness of drunk driving.

Instead, let this holiday season be remembered by everyone for the great time with friends and the cherished moments with family.

By showing restraint behind the wheel and maturity at the bar, we can ensure that everyone remains safe this season and that the single red bulb on the Safety Tree remains the only one.