Sober­ing thoughts

The Amherst News - - OPINION -

It’s Satur­day night. You’re at a friend’s house watch­ing the hockey game, play­ing cards, or en­joy­ing din­ner. You’ve had some beer, a glass of wine, maybe a rum and coke.

Around 11 p.m. you’re tired and de­cide to hit the road.

You have only a short dis­tance to go, and you don’t feel any ef­fects of the al­co­hol, so you drive home in­stead of call­ing a cab to come pick you up.

It’s early spring, but the roads are a bit slip­pery and it’s a dark night. You just want to get home and go to bed.

You re­al­ize you’re driv­ing too fast to make the turn onto your road. You find your­self slid­ing out of con­trol into the other lane.

Your neigh­bour’s teenaged kids, a brother and sis­ter, are on the side of the road, scur­ry­ing home be­cause they’ve just missed their 11 p.m. cur­few.

You’re un­able to con­trol the car and it strikes both of them.

The boy dies in­stantly. The girl suc­cumbs to her in­juries a few hours later.

Be­fore she does, she learns of her brother’s death and her scream is heard through the hos­pi­tal halls.

You’re in emer­gency wait­ing to be seen, and hear the scream.

Down the hall, you see your neigh­bour, your friend, col­lapse on the floor af­ter los­ing both of his chil­dren.

You walk away from the ac­ci­dent phys­i­cally un­scathed, but emo­tion­ally dam­aged for the rest of your life.

You made the self­ish de­ci­sion to drive. You are sen­tenced to time in jail.

It’s tragedy all around. And could have eas­ily been avoided.

Thank­fully, this story isn’t true. But sim­i­lar tragedies hap­pen.

This is Na­tional Im­paired Driv­ing Pre­ven­tion Week. De­spite years of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion about the dan­gers of drink­ing and driv­ing — or us­ing drugs and driv­ing — the mes­sage hasn’t got­ten through. Drink­ing and driv­ing is an epi­demic in this re­gion. Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada fig­ures from 2015, all four At­lantic prov­inces rate above the na­tional im­paired driv­ing rate of 200 in­ci­dents per 100,000 peo­ple.

St. John’s had the high­est rate among Canada’s metropoli­tan ar­eas — 411 in­ci­dents per 100,000 peo­ple. Monc­ton and Hal­i­fax are also above the na­tional av­er­age of 200 in­ci­dents per 100,000 peo­ple.

These stats were re­leased in De­cem­ber 2016, and are still rel­e­vant. Too many im­paired driv­ing charges con­tinue to be laid.

Ac­cord­ing to the RCMP, it’s “a lead­ing cause of crim­i­nal death in Canada.”

It’s up to the pub­lic to curb this.

Get im­paired driv­ers off the road by en­cour­ag­ing loved ones and friends to call a cab or ar­range a des­ig­nated driver.

Re­port sus­pected im­paired driv­ers to the po­lice. And never get be­hind the wheel if you’ve had a drink or a draw.

Tak­ing some­one’s life, per­haps your own, is sim­ply not worth the risk.

Just imag­ine hav­ing to look an­other per­son in the eye af­ter you killed some­one they love.

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