The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign was designed to help law enforcement and homeland security forces gather intelligence which could prevent terrorist attacks. It’s meant to literally raise awareness … of your surroundings! The world we live in has changed so much in the years since the September 11th attacks. Now we are subjected to Orwellian messaging while we shop at Walmart and attend public events. “If You See Something, Say Something” has The Drudge Report calling Janet, ‘Big Sis’ as we are asked to watch each other for suspicious behavior.
So what does all this have to do with drunk driving? We are being asked to be proactive toward terrorism. After all, lives are at stake. By watching out for objects in strange places and people doing odd things, and by acting on what we see, we can potentially avert deadly attacks. In essence, it’s a nation-wide Neighborhood Watch campaign. Let’s consider a primary purpose of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to be saving American lives. Now consider the lives lost to drunk driving every year.
Here is a simple chart with simple statistics comparing the fatalities of the 9/11 attacks to fatalities from the Iraq War to the fatalities from drunk driving.
There were nearly 11,000 drunk driving fatalities last year. This is lower than the average considering we are coming off of years of 12,000 and 13,000 deaths per year.
American casualties in the Iraq War total almost 4,300 since 2003. If the Iraq War went on for another 16 years, we’d have about as many fatalities as in one year from drunk driving.
9/11 casualties were just under 3,000. If there were three 9/11-style attacks in our country every year, it would not equal the deaths from drunk driving.
So how can “If You See Something, Say Something” impact drunk driving deaths? Over the past several years, I have googled news stories on a daily basis for the terms DUI, DWI, and OWI. I read many drunk driving news articles every day and there are several things I look for. One of them led me to a statistic we state on our Home page. I take note of whether a news story tells what the drunk driver was doing before getting into the car. In particular, I look for whether they were alone, or with other people. I kept track and after reading hundreds of news stories, it turns out that only 10% of drunk drivers are drinking in solitude before driving. 90% of all drunk driving happens after hanging, dining, or going out with friends, family, or coworkers. There is almost always somebody there who could prevent each instance of drunk driving.
But how, just by being there, can we prevent somebody from driving drunk? Well, we can’t. We can’t stop a terrorist at Walmart just by being there either. That’s why we are asked through the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to be vigilant, to know what others around us are doing, and to know what’s going on. We should know what is ‘normal’ so we can notice something ‘out of place’.
Applying the same concept to drunk driving means learning how alcohol interacts with the body, and how to properly wait after drinking before driving (even if you don’t drink). When you are with people who are drinking, try to take note of how much they are having and how much time passes before they leave. When you see drunk driving about to happen, step in and say something! Start a conversation and prevent that person from leaving. Don’t sit by and allow people, even strangers, to stagger away from you to get in their cars. Intervene.
By being observant and proactive, we can prevent acts of terrorism. By applying the same principle, we can dramatically reduce the deaths attributed to drunk driving. Now all we need is a DHS video campaign in places where people congregate to drink …
“If You See Drunk Driving About To Happen, Say Something”