Health officials remind residents of dangers of drunk driving


Staff report



XENIA — Greene County Public Health officials expect more drunk drivers on the streets as this Halloween falls on a Saturday.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with Greene County Public Health’s (GCPH) Safe Communities Coalition to remind residents of the dangers of drunk driving.

“Halloween poses an especially dangerous threat to pedestrians, as more people are out at night on the hunt for candy. If your night involves alcohol, plan for a sober ride home. Remember: It’s never safe to drink and drive,” Jillian Drew, Safe Communities coordinator and GCPH health educator said.

GCPH reported that between 2014 and 2018, there were 145 drunk-driving fatalities on Halloween night (6 p.m. Oct. 31 to 5:59 a.m. Nov. 1). According to NHTSA, 41 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night from 2014 to 2018 were in crashes involving a drunk driver. Adults between the ages of 21 and 34 had the highest percentage (39 percent) of fatalities in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night in 2018.

“With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, we’re certain to see extra parties throughout the weekend, and every single partygoer should plan their sober ride home in advance,” Drew said. “Even one drink can impair judgement. You should never put yourself, or others, at risk because you made the selfish choice to drink and drive. Even one drink can be one too many. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.”

GCPH officials said 36,560 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2018, and 29 percent (10,511) of those fatalities occurred in crashes during which a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08.

Officials advise drivers to keep an eye out for pedestrians — whether they be children trick-or-treating or adults who have had too much to drink.

“We want our community to have a fun night out on Halloween, but to also stay safe and make responsible choices,” said Drew. “In today’s world, there are many options available to drivers to help them get home safely if they have been drinking. We expect drivers to refrain from driving after drinking.”

Nationally, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. The costs can be financial, too, Drew said. A person caught drinking and driving could face jail time, lose his or driver’s license and vehicle, and pay up to $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, car towing, higher insurance rates, and lost wages.

Party with a plan

Health officials ask residents to remember the following safety tips:

• Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.

• If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 1-800-GRAB-DUI or *DUI.

• Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

For more information on the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition, call Jillian Drew at 937-374-5683 or email her at jdrew@gcph.info.

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Staff report