Decisions determine everything. Period. End of story. Naivety comes into play when anyone is ignorant enough to believe choices do not affect others. That particular logic could not be further from the truth. And on some occasions, that line of thinking can also be dangerous. Tomorrow, countless numbers of folks will be taking part in social events to celebrate Memorial Day. Many of these gatherings will include alcohol. Before I go any further, this is not an attempt to discourage having a good time and a few drinks. What I am encouraging is safety and responsibility if alcohol is involved. This is where the aforementioned logic, or lack thereof, becomes a talking point. As cliché as it may sound, there is truth to the old saying “If you drink, it is your business. If you drink and drive, it becomes everyone’s business.”
With the little bit of space I am given today, I am not going to hit you with the typical holiday public service announcement regarding drinking and driving. Instead, I am going to share why this is a topic I am passionate about and how one decision ended three young lives and changed the mindset of an entire school.
December 3, 1990 would have been like any other day for a teenager in central Missouri. It was a Monday morning. It was a school day. And most importantly, we were all getting excited that we were two weeks shy of Christmas break. All of that happiness came to an unexpected and tragic halt when we were called to the gym. Because the student body was not aware of any special event, quiet conversations began. Once seated, it became clear, due to the solemn look on the faces of the principal and teachers that this assembly was not going to end well. Within seconds, loud sobbing, hugging and tears took over as we were informed Brad, Jody and Quentin were all killed in a car accident the night before. That Sunday night, the three made the decision to not just drink, but drink a lot and then go for a drive.
That single choice ended with three of my classmates not making it across the railroad tracks. I remember lowering my head and wondering why. That single choice cost Brad, Jody and Quentin their lives and forever altered the lives of their families and friends who loved them. That single choice has left me and many others with the memory of attending three different funerals in one day. Jody’s injuries were so extreme that her funeral was “closed casket”. Losing one friend is hard enough. Losing three simultaneously is indescribable. Obviously, the three did not set out to lose their lives, but they did, and in the process left a void that can never be filled.
Drinking and driving is not a victimless crime, even if another vehicle is not involved. The ramifications of a DWI/DUI arrest affect more than just the driver. The decision to drink and drive is not only ridiculously dangerous, it can lead to humiliation and incarceration. And of course, it can be costly — literally and figuratively.
Let’s put this into perspective. During the 2015 Memorial Day weekend, DPS troopers arrested 270 drunk drivers. That is 270 arrests in Texas. And obviously, there were many more who were never caught. Now imagine how many drunk drivers were on the road during the Memorial Day holiday nationwide. To me, that is a scary thought.
If you are going to drink, don’t be selfish and take the chance of ruining lives, including your own.
Rick Phelps is the news director at KOXE-KBWD radio and a former staff writer for the Brownwood Bulletin. Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.