Our Opinion: Start the New Year right; don't drive drunk

WARNING: During the New Year’s holiday weekend, all available Missouri Highway Patrol officers will be on the roadways.

Jefferson City police officers and Cole County sheriff’s deputies also will be saturating the roads.

They will be watching for traffic violations and attempting to prevent accidents, which frequently surround New Year’s celebrations.

How frequent?

If last year’s statistics are any indication, the weekend tally included 1,198 crashes, resulting in 386 injuries and five fatalities, according to the patrol.

Contributing factors in New Year’s accidents include bad weather conditions and drunken driving.

Bad weather cannot be prevented, but motorists can prepare by allowing extra travel time and being flexible. When conditions warrant, the patrol advises motorists to travel only when necessary.

Unlike poor weather, drunken driving is preventable. No one who consumes alcohol exceeding the legal limit — blood alcohol content of 0.8 or above — needs to drive. Alternatives include designated drivers, the Sober Driver program or staying the night.

Why do people who are legally drunk risk accidents, vehicle damage, injuries, medical bills, arrest, court costs, jail time, killing other people or themselves?

Because their judgment is impaired.

People who are thinking clearly don’t take risks of that magnitude.

Unfortunately, people who are thinking clearly all too often are the victims of drunken drivers.

The patrol reminds motorists: “If you kill or injure someone, you’ll pay a price for the rest of your life.”

A new year brings a range of possibilities. Eliminate the worst possibility starting from day one.

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