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A Sobering Thought

Think before you drink.

December 3, 2009
Sarah Ruppenthal · Editorial Assistant

During the holiday season, these reckless decisions can be as rampant as snowstorms at the North Pole, as many will imbibe in the festive spirit at office parties, fundraisers and holiday feasts. Sure, this should be a time to celebrate with family and friends, but it is also a time when a split-second decision can be fatal.

If you are holding the keys, you may also be holding a life in your hand. Be responsible—and not just for yourself, but for others on the road. Using a designated driver or volunteering to be one should be at the top of your wish list this holiday season. If you think I’m being dogmatic (and I am—I’ve lost three friends to drinking and driving), then let the statistics speak for themselves.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in alcohol-impaired traffic crashes across the U.S. The organization also reports that three of every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lives and on average, someone is killed by an intoxicated driver every 45 minutes. Not a startling statistic, considering that more than 1.46 million impaired drivers were arrested in 2006—an arrest rate of one for every 139 licensed drivers in the nation.

Hawai‘i ranks No. 1 in the nation in alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2008, MADD reports 46 percent of traffic fatalities in the State of Hawai‘i were alcohol-related, with 42 percent involving a driver with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher.

Article Photos

Sarah Ruppenthal · Editorial Assistant

This month, in celebration of its 25th anniversary, MADD will kick off its annual Tie One On For Safety campaign, also known as the Red Ribbon Campaign. The Red Ribbon Campaign was established in 1984 to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. Red ribbons were tied on vehicle antennas or side mirrors, and soon became a holiday season tradition, as well as a symbol of a united front to prevent drunk driving and save lives. Maui County residents can pick up a free red ribbon at 7-Eleven, Foodland, Longs Drugs, NAPA, Safeway, Tesoro and Zippy’s.

So this holiday season, give your family, friends and complete strangers the best gift of all—a safe ride home.

For more information about the Tie One On For Safety campaign and for additional free red ribbons, call (808) 532-6232 or visit To download a free safe party guide, visit



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