Alcohol-Related Fatalities Down 30% - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/22/02

Alcohol-Related Fatalities Down 30%

It's one of the most frequently committed violent crimes, yet it's 100% preventable. Last year 17,000 people died in alcohol-related crashes across the country, and this year that number will probably remain the same. But as other states see alcohol related death's increase, Mississippi has seen that rate drop by 30 percent this year.

For the last two years the national percentage of car crash deaths related to alcohol has remained constant, but contrary to many other states, Mississippi has the second largest decrease.

"Law enforcement is out there, public awareness, I think that's the main reason, and of course DUI's are expensive," Mothers Against Drunk Driving coordinator Elaine Thomas said. 

"You have to be proud of a decrease. What you're doing is that you can say that somewhere down the line you saved somebody's life. A drunken driver out there, as much as I've seen them is going to go down the road and hurt somebody, some way," Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Joe Gazzo said. 

Both Gazzo and Thomas feel that the social acceptability of drinking and drivers is slowly but surely fading away.

"If we can go out there and get drunk drivers off the road, and then the average person is safe to go down the road without this person hitting them. And that's what we're looking for making the roads safe," Gazzo said.

This holiday season the Mississippi highway patrol and other local agencies plan to have more officers on the street then ever before this year looking exclusively for intoxicated drivers. Although, Mississippi can boast a significant decrease in alcohol related fatalities we are still very high on that list.

Thirteenth as a matter of fact, with the ratio of vehicles traveled to alcohol fatalities, and that's a long way away from this mother's goal.

"But, of course, we're pushing for no fatalities and that's our goal and I suppose we won't be through until we get no fatalities... the holidays are upon us, this is the most deadly time of year, and I would ask everybody not to drink and drive," Thomas said.

With sobriety checkpoints across the coast these holidays, police say they're happy to take an intoxicated driver to jail, even on Christmas day.

By Nathan Mihelich

 

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