Summertime is generally associated with a feeling of freedom and easy living as school breaks give way to vacations and warm weather encourages people to be out and about more often. Missouri residents love to enjoy area lakes and events with friends and family members during this season. Unfortunately, these celebrations can often be marred by tragedies caused by negligent people.
Despite many decades of widespread awareness campaigns against drunk driving, people continue to die at the hands of impaired drivers. A recent report from KDSK highlighted that over the Fourth of July holidays in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the state of Missouri experienced 20 different fatal drunk driving wrecks. A total of 33 drivers were involved in these accidents. Nearby Illinois only recorded 13 such accidents in the same time period.
More records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that alcohol was a contributing factor in anywhere between 25% and 32% of all statewide vehicular fatalities from 2013 to 2017. In Jackson County, the situation is even worse as drunk driving was connected to as many as 37% of all accident deaths in a single year during that same span.
In 2013, the county recorded 27 drunk driving deaths which was 37% of the total automobile deaths in the county that year. Alcohol claimed 19 or 32% of all fatalities in 2014, 21 or 26% in 2015. In 2016, things got worse again as 33 people died in alcohol-related crashes, 37% of the county's vehicular fatalities. In 2017, alcohol was a factor in 35% of the area's deaths, claiming 39 lives. All of these deaths should be preventable as it is a choice to get behind the wheel after driving.