Drunk driving an unfair risk

It is hard for anyone to sit back and hear: “No, I’m good to drive.” “I don’t need a ride.” “I am completely sober.” “I won’t get caught.” “It doesn’t even matter.”

Actually, you are not good to drive, you do need a ride, you aren’t sober, you will get caught and it does matter — a lot.

Drinking and driving is something that many people have been adversely affected by, whether indirectly or directly. The potential consequences include trouble with the law, injury or death.

On Aug. 1, 2009, the annual Tom Sawyer Triathlon in Louisville, Ky., was on the agenda for the day. Kenneth Yates had something else in mind. It was a sunny, unforgettably sad day.

The triathlon started off well — people were finishing the mile-and-a-half swim and moving on to the 14-mile bike ride. In the middle of the ride, however, many of the bikers came upon a scene that was hard to forget. On one side of the road people were concentrating on pedaling their fatigued bodies on their bikes, but on the other side of the road there was an ambulance and a body underneath a tarp. It was awful. You could see the blood spilling out from underneath the tarp.

So what happened? That morning, Yates was so drunk and high that on a four lane road, he managed to hit a biker taking up the most miniscule portion of pavement he could. He hit the man on the bike, killed him on impact and then fled the scene in his car — a car that still had the bike embedded in the windshield. After he got pulled over by police, he ran to his mother’s house, which was located nearby. His own mother had to turn him in to the police.

The saddest part of this story is: this biker had done nothing to deserve it. Another man had decided his fate when he woke up that morning. He had three children and a wife waiting for him to finish the race. And Kenneth Yates made sure he would never finish the race.

In 2009, there were a total of 791 traffic fatalities in Kentucky, with 239 of them alcohol related. Thirty percent of all fatalities were alcohol-related. That percentage is far too high. It identifies the number of people who will never see their mom, dad, brother or sister again. No one can honestly say they want that.

The scariest part of this incident is that if I had been a couple of miles ahead on the course, it would have been my life that was taken instead.

That’s why it is so difficult to sit back and see people getting hurt because of drinking and driving. It is never worth the pain. It is not right to risk someone else’s well-being because you want to drive while drunk. It just isn’t.

Decide your own fate, not someone else’s.