As the holidays approach many folks will hit the road to visit family and friends. In 2018, over 10,500 people were killed on America’s highways by impaired driving. And while we Texans love to brag, Houston has an impaired driving problem. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), in 2018 121 people were killed in Harris County alone, with a staggering 3,186 alcohol involved crashes taking place.
Since 1981, December has been designated National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. It’s an important opportunity to raise awareness so we can work to prevent impaired driving and keep our highways safe for everyone.
Sadly, impaired driving isn’t the only problem. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, distracted driving, most commonly texting while driving, killed 2,841 Americans in 2018. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
Distracted and impaired driving are some of the most dangerous threats on the road. Driving under the influence is a crime that endangers everyone sharing our roadways. As we head to Christmas and holiday parties, having a designated, sober driver is a sure-fire way to make sure everyone gets home safe. No designated driver? No problem, ride sharing is also a safe option. The price of an Uber or Lyft is cheaper than any legal costs from getting a DUI or worse, the cost of taking a life.
During the holiday season, and every day, we must make a commitment to be safe and smart, act responsibly, drive sober, and implore friends and loved ones not to get behind the wheel while impaired. We must also set a good example for our younger drivers and turn off our phones while driving. No drink, text or bad decision is worth putting the lives of you and those around in danger.
While traveling this holiday season, let’s keep everyone around us safe by keeping our attention on the road and staying sober while we drive. The texts, calls, snacks and mulled wine can wait.
Pete Olson represents the 22nd Congressional District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Visit olson.house.gov for more info.