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Group warns against impaired driving

December 07, 2000

Group warns against impaired driving



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Safe driving mascotAs it does every December, the Washington County Community Traffic Safety Program is trying to make people aware of the dangers of drunken and drugged driving.

"'You drink and drive ... you lose' is the theme this year," said Andrea Harris, program director, as she officially kicked off the observance Thursday at the Community Rescue Service headquarters on Eastern Boulevard.

Every 33 minutes someone in America dies because of a drunken or drugged driver, Harris said. Every two minutes, someone is injured.

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According to a study by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 68 percent of children killed in alcohol-related crashes were riding in the car with the drinking driver.

"It is time to address impaired driving as a serious issue that costs millions of dollars in lost time, property and, most importantly, lost lives," Harris said.

There's also a push for using seat belts. To that end, plush toy bees bearing the slogan "Bee Smart, Buckle Up" were distributed at Thursday's meeting.

Representatives of the Hancock Police, Hagerstown City Police, Maryland State Police and Washington County Sheriff's Department will coordinate saturation patrols during the holiday season to help control the problem.

December 15-17 has been designated Holiday Lifesavers Weekend throughout Washington County. It will start Friday, Dec. 15, with Lights On For Life Day as motorists are asked to turn on their lights to commemorate those who have died in impaired driving crashes.

Impaired driving can be caused by alcohol and illegal drug use and from the use of valid prescription and over-the-counter medications that can make a driver drowsy and inattentive.

"We are suggesting three alternatives to drugged and drunk driving," Harris said.

Those alternatives are include designating a sober driver, finding a safe ride home or spending the night where you are.

Jason Shumaker, corporate representative of Antietam Cab Co., said Thursday his firm will again offer rides home from bars on New Year's Eve for those who have been drinking.

"We are hoping to expand that program someday to include people coming from parties, too," Shumaker said.

Shumaker and Antietam's safety director, Loren Shaw, will introduce a new Taxis on Patrol program after the first of the year. The drivers of the company's 11 cabs and seven sedans will be trained to notice crimes of all kinds and report them to authorities, Shumaker said.

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