Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning hundreds of
Americans will die on the nation’s roadways.
Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning hundreds of Americans will die on the nation’s roadways.
Comparatively few will be killed because of mechanical failure or bad driving conditions alone. Most will be victims of someone driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
They will die in a number of ways – from being crushed by two vehicles colliding at high speed, by decapitation, by burning to death before help can arrive, by ruptured organs, by strangulation or by many other horrible means.
They will come from all walks of life – from the very poor to the affluent and to many degrees between.
Some will be the cause of their own death or those of family members. The most tragic deaths will be those of children, whether by the carelessness of strangers or by members of their own families.
Not all victims die from their injuries right away. Some are sedated for months before they succumb and some remain alive for years in a vegetative state. The families of the dead – the unlisted victims – carry it with them for the rest of their lives.
New Year’s Eve is a time of professional anxiety for law enforcement officers. Many have seen roadway tragedies before but few ever become inured to it.
One lawman, being interviewed on his retirement, was asked the most memorable incident of his long professional career. He said, “One New Year’s watching a young woman die as emergency workers pulled her from the wreck of a car while she was still screaming for her dead baby inside.”
Many law agencies will be on the road from sundown Tuesday until sunrise on Wednesday in an attempt to avert tragedy. Their action will prevent some deaths – no one can say how many – but even their best efforts cannot stop them all.
It may be that this year you can be among the number who help save a life. If you see someone under the influence who is going to drive, try to talk him out of it or offer to drive him yourself. If that fails, ask a closer friend to talk to him.
If that doesn’t work, try to get his car keys. Hide them or, if necessary, throw them on the roof.
If all else fails, tell him you will call the police. He may be angry but will probably be grateful when he is sober again.
Even if you lose a friendship, it is far better than losing the friend.