On June 20th, 2016, I found out my very close friend was killed by a drunk driver. She and her two friends were coming back from a trip to the Grand Canyon over a long weekend before their summer term classes began. The person who hit my friend's car was driving under the influence, speeding away at 100mph from a hit and run, driving on the wrong side of the highway.
According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, someone is killed every 51 minutes from a drunk driving car crash. All it takes is a split second to ruin your future and/or injure or kill those around you.
Drunk driving is 100 percent preventable. Plan ahead, have a non-drinking designated driver. Plan ahead by arranging an alternative ride home, such as a taxi or asking a sober friend to pick you up. If you decide to drink, choose to not drink to get drunk. If you feel as though you cannot control your drinking habits, please know help is out there. Look out for your friends. Help those whose judgement may be impaired get home safely, whether that be taking their keys or calling for a taxi. The choices you make do not only affect just you. Every time you get in your car, you are putting your life and the lives of those around you at stake.
If someone had stopped this person from drinking and driving by taking their keys or arranging a safe ride home for them, my friend would still be alive. If this person hadn’t made the decision to drink to the point that their judgement was impaired, my friend would still be alive. The person who killed my friend made an awful choice to drive a car intoxicated. Because of that choice, my friend doesn’t get to see her family again, complete her degree or travel the world like she wanted to. She will not graduate from college, walk down the aisle or watch her siblings grow up. I miss my friend more and more every day. She was taken from Earth far too early. Although she will remain in my heart and mind forever, time will not heal this loss.
My hope is that by sharing this story, it will inspire at least one person to think and reflect the next time they find themselves able to make a difference in a situation to prevent drunk driving. Whether that means you will turn down "just one more," take the keys away from a friend that's had a little too much, or most importantly, not get behind the wheel after having had one too many. I hope to encourage others to think about the future, and not just the now, and consider the consequences of the decisions they make, for better or for worse.