Tuesday, August 21, 2007

13,470 is a Big Number

This morning I was perusing the numerous news sites I've bookmarked trying my best to stay in tune and informed. With my recent busy production schedule I’ve found myself lapsing into the “I’ll check it later” mode. And just as I was about to click over to for the weekend movie grosses a headline caught my eye:

13,470 Drunk Driving Deaths in ‘06

I was stunned. I didn’t know if the number was an increase from previous years or a decrease. It didn’t matter at that point. 13,470 was suddenly a big number. It took on a gargantuan proportion.

Something about it hit me hard, and I began to think.

13,470 is half the number of people in my hometown.
Of the 13,470 how many were children?
How many were pregnant women?
How many were innocent people who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time?
13,470 is 13,470 people I’ll never have the joy of knowing.
How many of the inebriated fools walked away from the accident without a scratch?
Did the drunken survivors go to prison or did they get off with community service?
13,470 is 13,470 too many.

The very first time I ever came face-to-face with an alcohol related death was when I was in junior high school. I remember it clearly. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when my social studies teacher, his wife, mother-in-law, and newborn son were innocently driving along and hit head on by a drunk driver. The only survivors were the newborn child… and the drunken man who hit them. The drunk walked away from the accident with barely a bruise. The child’s future was suddenly changed forever.

What will it take to make people think before they drink too much and drive?

I don’t have the answer. I wish I did.

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