This was a column written by Christine Sand and published in the Kanabec County Times on November 14, 2013. Click here to view the original column.
On a snowy February night almost five years ago my life changed forever, in the blink of an eye.
I was in a car crash.
Dazed and confused I reached for my cell phone, grateful that it was in my jacket pocket. As I talked to the Kanabec County 911 operator I thought of my family at home. My husband, my two very young boys, I had to get to them, I had to get home.
As the operator kept me talking headlights would come, yeah help. Then they would drive by without stopping. I tried to put down my window to wave my arm and realized the glass was gone from the window and it was snowing.
When the first responders arrived a wonderful EMT got into the passenger side of my car and talked to me while others tried to get me free. I felt “fine.” I just wanted to get home.
I remember the EMT looking down at my legs and trying to tell me I was injured. I didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t want to know. Finally, 12 hours and two hospitals later I got to see my husband. What had happened the night before started to sink in, I had been hit head-on by a drunk driver.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD):
On average one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes. Of those, 122 (54 percent) were riding with the drunk driver.
A victim or survivor of drunk and drugged driving is helped every eight minutes
Almost every 90 seconds, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash
In 2011, 9,878 people died in drunk driving crashes – one every 53 minutes
What can you do to not be a part of these statistics? How can we keep our children from being a part of a drunk driving crash?
I grew up in the 80s. I was the first generation to hear “Just say NO.” What I remember the most about that campaign was a contract that parents and kids read and signed together. This was a starting point for conversation.
It was a way for parents to talk to their kids and for kids to ask questions. My boys have an advantage; they have a daily reminder of the bad that can come from excessive drinking. We need to teach all our children the advantages of saying “NO” with pride and confidence.
We need to have conversations with our children about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol. We need to empower them with the ability to make good decisions.
I’ve been working with the Substance Abuse Coalition of Kanabec County (SACK) to help develop a new campaign on impaired driving. We were fortunate to receive a grant allowing us to get the message out discouraging community members from drinking and driving.
If the injuries of a crash aren’t enough to make you think about driving while you are impaired, the loss of respect and damage to your reputation should give you pause. Small towns have long memories. It is important to consider what your friends, family, and co-workers may think, but most important is what you think of yourself.
While we do not have control over others on the road, there are a few things we can do to help prevent the harms that often result from impaired driving:
1. When you suspect someone is driving while impaired, call 911.
2. Patronize local businesses who don’t over-serve.
3. Encourage your friends and family members not to drink and drive.
What we do have control over is simple, our ability to make the safe choice; if you drink, don’t drive.
Christina Sand is a member of the Substance Abuse Coalition of Kanabec County (SACK). SACK is administered by Kanabec County Public Health. For more information about the coalition visit www.sackcoalition.org.