Just An Observation – Hey! Let’s be careful out there

Being responsible and not driving impaired should be everyone's focus this season

While many of my fine readers may think they understand where this is heading remember, there is usually a twist.

Sure, I could focus on the road conditions with the return of actual winter to central Alberta since I’m sure none of us are missing the July temperatures and conditions seen last month (cough).

Or, I may wish to turn my attention to the need to take care not to go overboard on the treats and such during the next couple of months (not that I’d do it as a type 2 diabetic now, cough).

Nope, as is the usual part of my routine at this time of the year, I take heed from the wonderfully lovable Sgt. Phil Esterhaus who always cautioned his troops, “Hey, let’s be careful out there.” (For those who think they’ve heard that before, please turn to 1981 and tune into Hill Street Blues.)

Though, in this instance, I am referring to situations when it comes to any over indulgences that many partake in.

Yes, it’s the season when parties, celebrations and family gatherings take over the scene and involve the consumption of alcohol.

And I thought it would be appropriate to bring this up now, as last weekend was the beginning of the annual Check Stop campaign by the RCMP in Alberta with all detachments in the province out on the hunt for impaired drivers.

For the most part, people are becoming more responsible when it comes to this subject. However, a disturbing statistic was released two weeks ago that stated overall, one in five Albertans would get behind the wheel while drunk if it was just a short distance home.

The statistic, which came from a Mainstreet Research poll, found that number was highest outside the province’s major cities. This finding was something that made me shake my head in disbelief and worry about what I may come upon as a small town volunteer firefighter.

For the most part, especially in small communities, individuals that drink and drive are caught a short distance from their homes. They also have a better chance than not of getting into a collision considering they believe they know the streets, the traffic and their route.

Having personally witnessed the fatal and tragic consequences of a ‘short’ trip home by a drunk driver several times, both as a reporter and a firefighter, there are still incidents that have left a lasting impression about just how one simple decision negatively changes the lives of so many people including us as emergency responders.

What also continues to baffle me is the thought process of 20 per cent of Albertans, who continue to delude themselves into believing driving drunk is the correct course of action despite the evidence of danger, the consequences and the options open to them.

In a small community, there may not be a taxi company, but usually at holiday functions there is a provision made for a safe ride home. That said, a good number of people that would be classified as over the legal limit could easily walk that ‘short’ distance home.

The other, and far better, option is to ensure you are part of a group with a designated driver that can get everyone home safely.

And if the function is at someone’s house, hopefully they have a plan to allow for someone that needs to ‘crash’ at their home overnight if there isn’t an alternative available.

Because the last thing any emergency responder wants to get is a page on the radio for a collision that may involve someone they know and, in an instant, change the lives of people simply due to someone thinking they can make that ‘short’ drive home.

But that is…just an observation.