Drinksgiving dangers: Think before you drive

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The day before Thanksgiving is commonly known as Blackout Wednesday or Drinksgiving, encouraging people to drink through the holiday weekend.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 800 people died in alcohol-related crashes from 2015 to 2019.

Not only are you going to see more traffic on the roads this holiday weekend, but you’re also going to see more law enforcement in their efforts to crack down on drivers under the influence.

“Even small departments have been doing extra enforcement,” deputy Joshua Elpers continues, “because you can hear them on the radio and see multiple units logged in, making lots of traffic stops.”

The DUI Victim Center of Kansas‘ staff says that this is the most deadly holiday season when it comes to driving. The center’s mission is to help reduce the traumatic effect a drunk driving crash has on victims and their families and increase awareness of the consequences of drunk driving.

Recently they held their ‘Memorial Drive for DUI Victims.’ It is an event for more than those who lost a loved one, but a way for people who may have caused someone their life to honor them and for everyone to have a chance to connect with other’s who are going through the same thing.

The DUI Victims Center of Kansas has also teamed up with law enforcement agencies to put memorial ribbons on their patrol cars that honor people who lost their lives due to DUI accidents. 

The center’s office manager, Cheyenne Waller, says that this holiday has the highest fatality rates out of any other holiday and that 29% of all fatal car accidents involve people who are driving under the influence.

“It is important to make a plan; to make the right choices, to drive sober, get a DD (designated driver), maybe stay where you are for the evening,” Waller continues. “Ten out of 10 times, waking up somewhere you don’t necessarily want to be is better than not waking up at all or waking up with the knowledge that you injured yourself or another person or possibly even killed somebody else.”

KSN spoke with Janelle Jones, who lost her fiance, Chris, and 20-month-old daughter, Addison, to a drunk-driving accident that ended up in a river on March 11, 2020.

“You feel so lost. You lose your everyday life in minutes. And it just feels like everything’s gone. You’re so empty inside,” said Janelle.

Janelle tells us that Chris was the one driving under the influence. He was angry and chose to drink a 30 pack of beer within three hours. He then called Janelle to tell her that he had Addison with him and wasn’t coming home.

Janelle Jones’ 20-month-old daughter, Addison

“My daughter didn’t have a choice to get in that truck,” Janelle continued. “Everyone that goes out, has fun, consumes anything at all, they have the opportunity now to make that choice. To have someone drive them home. So I just ask that anyone that has consumed anything over the holidays that they think of my daughter, Addison. And it helps them make the right choice.”

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