Invest In Safer Roads

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Editor:

I have lived in this area for only a few months, but have already had to call in and report three drunk drivers driving in front of me in Payson in broad daylight, one of whom they handcuffed immediately. After reading your last paper, I think those who are against the checkpoints should be ashamed.

Do you folks realize that most of the alcohol one consumes passes into the small intestine where it is absorbed and goes eventually into the bloodstream? Approximately 90 percent of it leaves the body after being processed by the liver. This organ is able to process alcohol at a relatively fixed rate of one standard drink per hour. Therefore, if a person has more than one drink per hour, the liver cannot keep up its job of processing the alcohol and the percentage of alcohol in the blood begins to rise.

As alcohol builds up in the body, the activity of the brain, heart, and lungs may slow down. Early effects of alcohol consumption include impaired judgment, loss of self-control, and lessening of inhibitions. As more alcohol reaches the brain, the person's physical abilities become significantly impaired.

The limit in our state, sometimes ironically called the "legal limit," is 0.08 percent. A person with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.8 mg percent takes more than five hours to become completely sober. Because it takes so long, there isn't enough time for the person to sober up.

Some of you remember the night of May 14, 1988. Larry Mahoney was very drunk. He drove into a church bus returning from a field trip, killing 23 children and four adults, while injuring 12 others. As this (person) awoke the next morning in a hospital bed with minimal injuries, he was convicted of assault, manslaughter, wanton endangerment, and drunken driving.

What he did could have been avoided, and the more we excuse and tolerate behavior like this, the more of it we will see in the future to our family members. Imagine how many cab rides he could have paid for with the money spent on fines and attorneys' fees.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2004, 16,694 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes -- an average of one almost every half-hour.

Studies have consistently found that societal savings outweigh the initial investment. One study found that there was an average cost savings of $50,000 per checkpoint, including over $3,000 in medical costs. (Mercer, et al., 1996) Another found a $6 benefit for every $1 invested. (Miller, et al., 1998) (Miller, 2001) A third found a $23 benefit for every $1 invested. (Stuster and Blowers, 1995)

I will be the first to donate $10 toward anyone who reports a drunk driver that ends in a conviction. If we all chipped in $10, perhaps, we could eradicate this awful problem that haunts Rim Country roads.

Jane Sullivan, Payson

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