Richard has a really powerful piece in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a fatal drunk driving incident that has devastated two families. It’s a very sad story about one life cut short, another changed forever, and mothers, wives, friends, and children wrestling with the terrible aftermath.
Drunk driving is one of those areas of conduct where societal perceptions have changed completely during my lifetime. In the ’50s, ’60s, and early ’70s, when comedians and celebrities frequently joked about drinking and driving, police often seemed bemused by drunk drivers and occasionally would escort them home rather than arresting them. When people finally focused on the true costs of drunk driving, thanks to the work of advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the tolerance ended and state criminal laws changed to ensure that drunk driving was appropriately punished.
Despite all of the public service announcements, ad campaigns, sobriety checkpoints, and special police patrols, however, drunk driving continues. In 2012, 10,322 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in America — a number which represents an increase over 2011. Richard’s piece today forcefully reminds us of the individual stories of personal loss, anguish, and pain that lie behind each one of the abstract statistics.