GUEST COLUMN: Accident facts in Madison County: Are you a safe and sober driver?

GUEST COLUMN: Accident facts in Madison County: Are you a safe and sober driver?

By Landon Biehl

With summer winding down and the new school year just around the corner, people are planning Labor Day celebrations and trying to squeeze in one last family getaway before summer comes to an end.

During these last days of summer, the roads are busy with locals and tourists, which can increase the risk of car accidents. Not only are motorists distracted, participating in reckless behaviors like speeding or tailgating, but many motorists are driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Accident Facts in Madison County

According to some of the most up-to-date information compiled by the Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Prevention, between 2012 and 2014, car accident injuries were the third leading cause of injury-related death in Madison County, which resulted in 7 fatalities each year.

During this same period, car accidents were the third leading cause of hospitalizations in Madison County, which resulted in 44 residents requiring hospitalization after an accident each year. Car accidents are the leading cause of injury-related ER visits in Madison County, and there are 331 residents from the county that are treated and released after a crash, every year.

Drunk Driving in Madison County

While New York State has strict laws regarding drinking and driving, it doesn’t always keep people from getting behind the wheel after having one too many drinks, especially after a summer festival or after bar close on the weekend.

Not only can drunk driving lead to jail time and a hefty fine, but it can also result in fatal accidents which can significantly affect a community, regardless of its size. Even though Madison County is not as large as other counties throughout the state, any tragic loss to the community is felt.

According to the New York Department of Health, there were 2,727 accidents in Madison County in 2014, 68 of them were alcohol-related. Data compiled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration FARS database, between 2011 and 2016, shows that there were three fatal alcohol-related crashes in Madison County during that period.

Tips for Staying Safer on the Roads

Nearly every accident is preventable, so how can you keep you and your family safer while traveling in Madison County or other parts of New York State? Here are some tips.

  • Avoid any distractions by putting your phone out of sight and reach
  • Never drive when you’re sleep-deprived
  • Avoid driving during some of the most dangerous times, such as late night and early morning hours
  • Always designate a sober driver or have a backup plan
  • Be a good role model for inexperienced teen drivers
  • Buckle up
  • Sign a PLEDGE to be a safe and sober driver

Editor’s note: Landon Biehl of North Carolina is an advocate for the prevention of drunken driving who works to raise awareness through writing; he works for Consultwebs.

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