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12/15/2018
Drinking and driving

The little things we do have big impacts.

K.J. Harris is a former Ketchikan City Councilman. He drives a blue Ford Mustang; it used to be a blue Subaru Forester. He sold the latter.

On the back end of both cars is the message: “Don’t drink and drive … it’s really, really stupid.”

Harris, who began displaying the advice automotively almost 25 years ago, will never know how many traffic-related tragedies might have been avoided because he’s adamant enough about the message to share it publicly. He doesn’t know whether it’s influenced drivers’ behavior. But, if it saved only one life, or encouraged one person to avoid risk of injury and other costs, it’s been well worth it.

Sadly, Ketchikan has still suffered the impact of fatal and costly traffic accidents involving drivers who didn’t take Harris’ words seriously.

This time of year is doubly dangerous for such incidents.

It’s the holiday season, and winter offers frost, ice and snow.

One of the highlights of the holidays is parties, whether at home (or another’s home) or at or for the office.

They tend to involve spirits that alter one’s thinking, prompting usually wise drivers to make foolish decisions, particularly about driving. They can’t read Harris’ message and they might not see his or another’s car at all.

Individuals — whether at a party or alone — who consume, as well as the businesses and hosts, bear responsibility for preventing drinking and driving. Designated, non-imbibing drivers or taxicab transport can take that worry away.

Then winter weather, which has recently decided to show itself in Ketchikan, complicates the situation more than it might in other seasons by presenting frosty and, as a result, slippery roads and highways.

A driver under the influence, combined with ice, is a tragedy waiting to happen.

Local and state law enforcement will be especially vigilant this time of year in preventing traffic tragedies.

But they shouldn’t be expected to do it all. It will take the whole community cooperating with police and troopers. Because if all of us don’t, then the victims will be our friends, our families, our acquaintances. Even us.

Let’s get the message out. It’s stupid to drink and drive.