Drinking and Driving a Deadly Holiday Mix

51 Billion Dollars and rising! Sounds like a company a wise investor should invest in. After all, having a piece of a 51 billion dollar industry is an exciting prospect, filled with anticipation for the future right? Not this time. This industry takes away any hope for the future. Any promise of potential greatness is dashed to the ground, becoming ashes and dust when people continue to invest in this business.

Warnings have been issued over the years advising people to avoid investing in this global industry. Still people chose to purchase the stock - some one share at a time, others in large quantities. Each time they invest even one dollar into this corporation, they participate in destroying their own lives as well as the dreams and aspirations of others. Family and friends are even forced into the role of unwitting participants.

The government has taken a stand, as well as various groups around the globe, making it harder for people to invest in this corporation. Still people choose to disregard the signs that will eventually lead to their own demise. They continue their dangerous path of destruction. Why? Why do well educated human beings choose a pathway that is known to cause heartache and utter despair in order to be part of 51 billion dollar industry?

Doesn't this elusive business have enough of our hard earned money? As well as our personal blood, sweat and tears? I'm sure you're probably wondering to yourselves, 'What industry can she possibly be writing about?' Perhaps you would like to know if you have somehow missed the hundreds of warnings that are issued each year about this industry. Well here is the answer: Have you ever gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle with any alcohol, even one drink in your system? If you have, then you have invested in the 51 billion dollar club.

It is estimated that each year 51 billion dollars is spent on alcohol related crashes. During 2003 (According to NHTSA 2004), 17,013 deaths occurred in the U.S. alone because of alcohol-impaired drivers; 2,136 of those deaths were children under the age of 14. These investors have killed the future. This represents nearly 1/2 of all traffic related deaths in the U.S.

Most of those murdered were unsuspecting bystanders, not the impaired driver. And that is, after all, what this is...murder. Vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular homicide. You can put whatever name you want on this criminal action to help lesson the burden of the offenders, but the fact is they knowingly got behind the wheel of what turned out to be a killing machine and killed.

Although the court system doesn't define it as such, actions of this sort can even be likened to first-degree murder. Just look at the definitions for a moment. Taken directly from the site law for kids dot org, first degree murder is defined as: "causing the death of another person with either the intent or knowledge that the conduct will cause death and with premeditation. Premeditation is often described as 'malice aforethought,' which basically means that you probably considered the consequence of your conduct for at least a second before you committed the act."

With all the education available, those who drink and drive know the possible consequences of their actions before they get into their vehicle to drive. Yet, still they turn on the ignition, shift into first gear and off they go.

Why do we allow the death toll from this activity to continue? Several years ago people used the excuse 'There but for the grace of God go I' to turn a blind eye to the problem. That's about the time I discovered that the second member of my family, my sister, had been killed in an alcohol-related crash. (Jurors were sympathetic to the driver of the vehicle, thinking back to times they had gotten behind the wheel of their car after having a 'drink or two.') The drivers in all these cases got off with a warning or a light sentence.

I have since lost another 5 members of my family and friends to these murderers. Lest you think these are mere statistics I am citing for you, let me put names to my data: Rosie (my cousin, 28, and a mother of a newborn in the car at that time), Janet (my sister, "twin" and best friend, 22), Marsha (my cousin, 25, and the mother of a five-year-old in the car at the time), and Lisa (my counselee, 12, as well as her mother, 36, and her brother Jonathan, 8). As if that wasn't enough, a few weekends ago the tally in my family went up again.

Natasha, 16 years old, was on the way to her winter ball. A drunk driver crashed into the side of her vehicle, killing her instantly and turning her boyfriend into a quadriplegic. Thanks to yet another driver who chose to be part of the 51 billion dollar club. This driver hasn't had his sentencing hearing yet.

How can we stop the carnage? Law enforcement has doubled efforts to curtail DWI's, setting up sobriety checks and adding stiffer penalties on both the drivers and the establishments they had been drinking in. Criminal and civil lawsuits have inundated the courts. Education has been tripled and pamphlets are even sent out with our yearly car registration.

There are agencies that offer free rides to any driver who calls them in need of transportation after drinking. There is also the option of sleeping in your car, spending 55 cents on a phone call if you don't have a cell phone handy, or paying $69.00 at a local motel if all else fails. Yet all of this is obviously still not enough to deter some people from getting behind their wheel and taking the life of another innocent victim.

So what is the answer? To tell you the truth, I don't know. But I do know what will help. From one heartbroken member of these senseless tragedies, I am going to do what I can to get laws imposed that require every vehicle have Ignition Interlock systems installed on them.

Interlock systems are currently used for repeat offenders in many states around the U.S., but we need a shift from light punishments and warnings into prevention. I believe that installing these units on every new vehicle sold and requiring them to be installed on every used vehicle in U.S. (a check could be made during smog inspections to see that the law was obeyed) would save taxpayers court costs and insurance companies billions of dollars every year. More importantly, it would save family and friends the devastating loss of yet another innocent victim and another trip to the morgue to identify their loved one.

For those of us who don't drink and drive, it will be a minor nuisance. For those who do drink and drive, they will fight any steps that inconvenience their irresponsible and potentially deadly lifestyle. Think back a little to the seat belt issue. Many opposed the seat belt law when it went into affect.

But why were we forced to wear our seat belts? Because most people didn't do so voluntarily, and the number of accidental deaths and near fatal injuries that could have been prevented was so staggering that government decided to step in and intervene on our behalf. The deaths and injuries were senseless. The same holds true here. Drinking and driving is a senseless and oftentimes unjustly punished crime.

Won't you join me in this fight? Don't let the next phone call you get late at night be from the hospital telling you a loved one was injured in a drunk driving accident. Don't let the knock at the door at 3 AM be from a policeman telling you someone you loved has just been killed in an alcohol-related death.

What price would you be willing to pay for your son or daughter, sister or brother, mother or father? Forever is a long time. Are you willing to pay the price for the 51 billion dollar club? Think about Ignition Interlock systems and contact your state officials - put the pressure on them. Let them know we won't stand for the rules of the 51 billion dollar club anymore.

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About The Author, Jaci Rae
Jaci Rae is a #1 Best Selling author of Winning Points with the Woman in Your Life One Touchdown at a Time. Book Jaci for your next show: http://www.winningromance.com and hit contact button for her publicist.