LIMA — To highlight the dangers of impaired driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving kicked off the holiday season with their annual red ribbon event at Chamberlain-Huckeriede Funeral Home Friday afternoon.
Tied around the side view mirrors of public vehicles, the red ribbon is a symbol of MADD’s goal — to decrease injuries and fatalities caused by drunk driving. This year, MADD is also working to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired driving, or driving while under the influence of drugs outside of alcohol, such as opioids, prescription drugs and marijuana.
Lt. Timothy Grigsby, Lima Post Commander with the Ohio Highway Patrol, said 2018 is looking to be the top year in the last decade for the highest number of impaired driving violations due to enhanced enforcement methods. While the use of alcohol and marijuana can often be easily detected, Grigsby said officers’ training has been expanded to deal with any kind of drug impairment. The end goal is to remove impaired drivers from the roads and reduce the number of major accidents.
“You can be the best driver in the world and make the best choices,” MADD coordinator Pam Styer said, but that doesn’t matter if those drivers around you make bad decisions, she said.
According to statistics provided by the Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission, impaired driving remains the No. 1 cause of death on America’s roadways with more than 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving happening daily. In total, drinking and driving is responsible for 10,497 deaths per year throughout the United States.
Styer’s own daughter had been involved in a drunk-driving accident 24 years ago. She survived, but the incident convinced Styer to play a more active role in MADD to combat drunk driving.
“We just want our community to be safe,” Styer said. “Not just during the holidays, we want everyone to go home safe every single day.”
“At the end of the day, it affects not just the families involved, but the entire community,” Grigsby said.
The holiday season is especially susceptible to drunk driving due to the high concentration of holiday celebrations. Grigsby said individuals should plan ahead and designate a safe driver before attending a party to avoid unnecessary deaths.
“We don’t want the (funeral home) to be your next stop,” Dave Huckeriede said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.