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Opinion

Drunkards should stay put

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October 13, 2006

“He went through the windshield of his truck,” is all I can remember thinking about that fateful day of my senior year in high school. After the accident he lived for about two days before finally passing away. Then about a week later, it was released that he had been drunk at the
time of the accident.

He was a good person, he just made a very stupid mistake. Eric had been my friend in high school. He wasn’t someone I hung out with much outside of school, but during school we conversed on a regular basis. It was a shock to all of us when he died. Most of us knew he was a partier, but none of us thought he would step into his truck after a night of drinking, swerve off of the road into the ditch and roll the vehicle.

I began thinking about this again because last week my father was rear-ended by someone who was most likely inebriated by some type of substance. The sport utility vehicle crashed into the back of my father’s truck, driving the bed of the truck all the way up into the cab. The driver of the SUV then proceeded to ram his vehicle into a Yukon that was in the turn lane next to my father’s truck. At the time, the Yukon was filled with a number of children.

Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt in this incident.

After Eric’s death, I vowed I would never step into a vehicle if I had anything to drink. My vow was only further reinforced by what happened to my father last week. It sounds very cliché to say “it only takes one time,” but it is so true. Anyone who has ever been drunk knows it impairs your vision and slows your motor skills — this is not very conducive to driving. I don’t know what I would have done if the driver had killed my father. He and the people in the Yukon did not deserve to be the victims of a man’s stupid mistake, and I am very grateful they weren’t.

Drinking is an activity that can be fun in a controlled social situation. Going out to the bars has been a favorite pastime of many college students for years. It can be a great way to socialize and meet new people. What everyone needs to remember is that there can be horrible repercussions for stepping behind the wheel after a night of drinking. In the best-case scenario, a person might just hop into their vehicle and end up back home after swerving back and forth on the road a couple of times. The worst-case scenario involves a wreck of twisted metal where people inevitably end up dead.

Most of us probably remember the public service announcements and warnings from teachers and parents to not drink and drive. These warnings were undoubtedly drilled into our heads repeatedly during our youths. For some people these messages have just remained warnings. For others, like myself, it is a mantra that could have saved someone’s life if it had been practiced.

Next time you decide to go out and drink with your buddies, stay where you are, have a designated driver or call a cab because it only takes one time to change the course of numerous lives forever.

Derrick Knutson is a student at UW-River Falls.