Buzzed driving spikes this time of year

Nearly 50 area traffic deaths this year linked to alcohol.

Nearly 50 people in the Miami Valley died as a result of alcohol-related crashes so far in 2015, and those crashes typically spike beginning today through New Year’s Eve, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

“If you feel buzzed, you’re drunk — that is a fact,” said Lt. Douglas Eck, post commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Xenia post. He, along with the Greene County Combined Health District, are stressing that one drink is too many this holiday season.

“It’s harder to make that decision after you started drinking as to whether or not your buzzed or, you know, ‘Can I drive?’ The 100 percent answer is that, no, if you start drinking, you cannot drive,” said Ashley Stevely, health educator at the Greene County Combined Health District.

Eck dug up the numbers to prove it.

One in three fatal crashes in Ohio are linked to impairment. The year-to-date numbers for the Miami Valley are: Montgomery County, 22; Clark, 9; Miami, 4; Preble, 4; Warren, 3; Darke, 3; Greene, 2, and Mercer, 2.

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Those numbers do not include OVI-related injury crashes. The Miami Valley has recorded more than 550 of those in 2015.

Troopers say the biggest mistake people make is thinking they know their limit.

“They say that the life you save might be your own. More importantly, it may be somebody else’s. Don’t be that person who has to go through the rest of their life knowing that, because they didn’t take their driving seriously or they made a bad decision, someone lost their mother or their father or their child,” Eck said. “That’s something that you’re going to go to bed every night, and you’re going to see that person when you close your eyes.”

In September, a pregnant woman was cited for an OVI in Beavercreek. Police say she was lucky that both she and the baby survived. Earlier this year, in June, 13-year-old Tyree King was killed by a drunk driver in Springfield as King played in the yard.

“Sometimes people put their own personal wants and needs in front of the good of society,” Eck said.

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