GREENE COUNTY — Greene County Public Health is reminding communities this Fourth of July that buzzed driving is drunk driving.
“We often hear statistics that we only briefly register and then just as quickly forget, assuming — hoping — that those statistics will never touch us. How could we possibly know those faceless numbers?” a Greene County Public Health (GCPH) release reads.
According to GCPH, in 2015, 10,265 people were killed in drunk-driving-related car crashes, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities.
“That is 10,265 mothers, fathers, children, siblings, friends, grandparents, and so many more. To put it into perspective, that’s one person killed every 51 minutes. It’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing, with no survivors. Where is the outrage?” the release continued.
This year, families and friends will head out to picnics and parties on Tuesday, July 4, to celebrate Independence Day. Greene County Safe Communities Coalition, Greene County Public Health, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are reminding residents that any time a person drives under the influence of alcohol, that individual puts everyone in danger, including themself.
“Don’t be a 2017 statistic —help us spread this lifesaving message: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving,” GCPH officials said.
According to GCPH, in every state and the District of Columbia, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. During the 2015 July 4 holiday period — 6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m. July 6 — 146 people died in motor vehicle crashes involving at least one drunk driver or motorcycle operator (BAC of .08 or higher), accounting for a quarter of the deaths. Ninety-two people died in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .15 or higheR — nearly twice the legal limit.
This Fourth of July, Greene County Safe Communities Coalition is asking the community to make a plan before heading out to the holiday festivities.
“Every year, we see the devastating consequences of those who choose to drink and drive,” said Jillian Drew, Safe Communities Coordinator at Greene County Public Health. “Some years, our very own community is affected by drunk driving. This senseless behavior must end. There are so many other options available to get you home safely. Not using these resources is reckless and irresponsible.”
NHTSA data shows that young drivers (18 to 34 years old) are especially at risk of driving drunk. In fact, 46 percent of the drivers 18 to 34 years old who were killed in crashes over the July 4 period in 2015 were driving drunk (BAC of .08 or higher). Motorcycle operators are also overrepresented with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes. In 2015, more than a third (36%) of motorcycle operators in fatal crashes had BACs of .08 or higher.
Drunk drivers are also more common at night. Over the July 4 holiday period in 2015, nearly half (44%) of the drivers in nighttime (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired, compared to 19 percent of drivers in fatal crashes during the day.
“We’re at the mercy of the community,” said Drew. “It’s up to you to be responsible when you drink alcohol. Please, please — always designate a sober driver, even if you think you’ll only have one drink. Drinking and driving is never a good idea, and it endangers you and everyone around you. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.”
Members of the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition recommend these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
• Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app available on Google Play for Android devices: and Apple’s ITunes Store for IOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Greene County Sheriff or local police department.
• Know a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
“Drinking and driving is dangerous, even if you’re “just buzzed.” When you drive impaired, you risk your life and safety, and the lives and safety of those riding with you and around you. Does mortality not get your attention? Maybe money will: A DUI arrest could cost you up to $10,000, not to mention the loss of your vehicle and only driver’s license. You could face jail time, higher insurance rates, and hefty expenses from attorney fees, fines, car towing, repairs, and lost time at work,” the release concludes.
For more information on impaired driving, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.
Story courtesy of Greene County Public Health.