Tracy Talks: Teens need to stay safe on magical nights
by Anne Marie Fuller
Apr 10, 2014 | 4250 views | 10 10 comments | 146 146 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This month, many students are dressing to the nines for the biggest teen party of the year — prom!

A magical night indeed, but could something life-threatening lurk around the corner? I refer to the potentially deadly and all too familiar phrase “drinking and driving.”

As I did the research for this week’s column, I was hopeful that the statistical data from government agencies would show a decrease in drunken driving arrests. In reality, the statistics show they are on the rise.

According to the FBI’s website, an estimated 1,215,077 people were arrested in 2011 for driving under the influence in the United States. That number rose to 1,282,957 arrests in 2012.

Am I the only one finding these numbers alarming? With all the educational programs offered nationwide, coupled with all the media coverage of actual DUI accidents, how can arrests be on the rise? Is something not clicking with this message? Do people not realize the horrific consequences of drinking and driving?

“I responded to a fatal collision involving a DUI driver that took place on the outskirts of Tracy in which four people lost their lives,” Sgt. Robert Rickman, California Highway Patrol, said. “The scene of this accident has stayed with me. This was one of the worst collisions I have ever seen. The collision was so intense that it destroyed both vehicles. It was head on and one of the vehicles went over the top of the other, peeling off the roof. Three family members, all the same family, lost their lives due to the actions of a DUI driver, and that driver was the fourth fatality.”

Years back, I was asked to be the master of ceremonies for an annual candlelight vigil held in Stockton by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I read off the names of those who had lost their lives due to a drunken driver and saw the real pain in the faces of their surviving family members who had gathered. One of those faces in the crowd was my dear friend Annette, a mother who had lost her daughter due to a drunken driver.

This message is not a new one or one that will come as a shock to readers. It is a choice. And when you choose to drink and drive, it is a most selfish one. Look into the eyes of those who have lost family members and ask yourself — is this worth their lives? Is it worth yours? Please don’t drink and drive.

For more information on MADD, visit www.madd.org. The group also offers a 24-hour helpline for victims and survivors, 877-MADD-HELP.

• Anne Marie Fuller, National Mrs. Beauties of the Nation and Mrs. California BOTN, is the host of Helpful Hints with Anne Marie” on Channel 26. Contact her at annemarie@columnist.com.
Comments
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newsfan01
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April 11, 2014
Good use of tie-ins to keep my attention. Many authors that write about drinking and driving over use numbers and statistics to grab the attention of the reader. I like the tie-in with the officer and your experience toward the end.
Mblog
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April 11, 2014
I applaud the timing of your writing on this subject with today's prom. Just a reminder of drinking and driving could help save lives.
sftransplant
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April 10, 2014
The article states FBI figures indicate the number of DUI arrests have gone up from 2011-2012. That could be a result of more aggressive enforcement of the laws regarding DUI. I am curious if the number of collisions or fatalities has actually gone down in the past decades. More arrests could actually mean fewer accidents. I hope that is the case.

I wish people would understand that it's OK to drink...it's even OK to drink heavily if that's your idea of a good time...just don't get behind the wheel of a 2-ton vehicle capable of killing you and others when you do drink.
TimMichaelCase
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April 11, 2014
I have taught and researched Traffic Safety and statistics for over 35 years. The number of annual deaths has decreased sharply since 1980. Around 30,000 folks were killed each year in the late 70's and early 80's.

The death toll recently will range from 14,000 to 16,000 annually. Permanent disabling injuries have alms been cut in half over 35 years. DUI laws have gotten tremendously tougher since 1980 and continue to get tougher every year. Penalties and fines along with jail time and loss off license are extremely harsh as compared to years back.

The public at large has no more tolerance for those who drink and drive. This is all very good and positive. Police enforcement is much greater each year and the numbers show it. Thus, deaths and permanent disability injuries have dropped tremendously over 35 years, THANK GOD!

Ms. Fullers report is rather misleading when you compare the numbers over a long span of years.
sftransplant
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April 11, 2014
@ TimMichaelCase - Thanks for the update! After my post, I researched and saw the same data - Drunk Driving accidents, injuries and fatalities are all half of what they used to be a few decades ago. 14-15 thousand deaths/year now. This number of deaths is less than half that die in this country from the flu every year...yet, it is still 14-16 thousand too many for something that is 100% avoidable with good judgment. I am all for strict laws, on-going education/awareness campaigns and services (i.e. free Taxi, etc) to get that number closer to zero. Hope all of our kids have a happy and safe Prom season.
fortheunderdog
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April 11, 2014
TMC, The intent of Ms Fuller's article is to not drink and drive.

What is misleading about her report?

She mentions arrest statistics for years 2011 and 2012 and said there was an increase in DUI arrests in 2012.
TimMichaelCase
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April 13, 2014
fortheunderdog

The misleading part of the Fuller column is that the DUI arrests increased and the definite overtone was the problem is getting worse. "Am I the only one finding these numbers alarming?" as Fuller stated is a definitive overtone that Fuller believes the problem is getting worse. Helloooo!

I was pointing out the problem is not getting worse, there is MORE enforcement each year on the problem of DUI. Laws are MUCH, MUCH harsher on the DUI driver every year.

I was attempting to spread good news on the subject, NOT bad news as the Fuller letter indicates. Why get so defensive and upset over better news?
victor_jm
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April 13, 2014
I haven't checked any statistics, but I have questions based on decontextualized statistics.

First, Mr. Case, has Fuller cited an inaccurate statistic?

Second, Mr. Case, even if the annual death toll has decreased, this does not mean the number of accidents or the regularity of people driving while intoxicated has decreased.

Third, we all know actual tickets annually given to persons intoxicated while driving is likely less than 1 percent.

Finally, sedation is the name of the game. Marijuana is coming. Cocaine will follow. Heroine will be right behind them. Heck, when you can spend your leisure hours disabling your brain with a potpourri of narcotics, why leave the house?

You, know, this may the answer to our cultural woes.
sftransplant
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April 13, 2014
Wow...a lot of discussion over nothing.

Synopsis:

Article said DUI arrests are up (albeit slightly)

Article implied this is BAD NEWS.

I questioned if it really was a bad thing that arrest numbers are up as accidents and deaths may actually be down.

Mr. Case clarified that DUI related accidents/deaths are actually HALF of what they used to be in prior decades (GOOD NEWS)!

In my humble opinion, yes, the article was misleading. The only bad news is that ANY number of DUI deaths over "0" leaves room for improvement...which is where we're heading, according to statistics (Good news).
newsfan01
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April 14, 2014
I think the article made an excellent point in connecting the fact of DUI arrests to her saying "Is something not clicking with this message? Do people not realize the horrific consequences of drinking and driving?" Although deaths may be down over the past three or four decades, I admire her stating that drinking and driving is still a problem today.



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