A single car accident in the early hours of Friday morning is calling attention to the problem of Portland drunk driving and the damage it can cause.
According to a report in The Oregonian, in the early hours of Friday “a gold four-door 1998 Toyota Corolla crashed into the overpass abutment at Northeast 33rd Avenue and Columbia Boulevard, ejecting the 34-year-old driver from the vehicle.” The paper notes that the woman wound up trapped underneath the car. After being rescued she was taken to an area hospital with what were described as “life-threatening injuries.” The newspaper quotes police sources saying that an investigation is still in progress, but that the crash appears to be alcohol-related.
While we can take some small consolation from the fact that this terrible accident involved only a single car, it also serves as a powerful reminder of the damage drunk driving can do – a reminder that is especially timely as we enter the heart of the Holiday Season. The period between Thanksgiving and the New Year is always filled with parties, visits to and from relatives and many, many opportunities to overindulge.
According to the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving there were 71 Oregon drunk driving fatalities in 2010 alone, and there were 621 such deaths over the five years up to and including 2010 (the last year for which data is available). Nationwide, more than 10,000 people die in drunk driving accidents every year.
Here in Oregon we have worked hard to limit the potential damage drunk driving can cause. Education programs combine with some of the country’s strictest dram shop laws (laws that can leave a person who serves alcohol to a drunk person liable for the damage the drunk person causes once behind the wheel) to spread awareness. Still, as the above statistics indicate, there remains much work to do. This holiday season is an excellent time for each of us to be particularly aware of the potential, and the danger, drunk driving brings.