San Diego People: The dangers of drunk driving

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — While the July 4th weekend brings together many people for festivities, it is also one of the deadliest holidays on our roadways.  This week on San Diego People, we are taking a closer look at the dangers drunk driving.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 39 percent of all traffic deaths on the 4th of July weekend were from alcohol-related crashes nationally, from 2010 to 2014. The California Highway Patrol has seen a drop in arrests over the past few years, but officers still remain vigilant.

“Hopefully that’s the trend in the right direction and we don’t have an instance where we have more arrests this year,” said CHP officer Jake Sanchez.  “We do have officers out there prepared.  We have extra officers out on patrol for this weekend period.”

The CHP is partnering with other local law enforcement agencies as part of their "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign. But Sanchez said the safest thing to do is to prepare ahead of time.

“Know what you’re going to do and how you’re going to get home," Sanchez said. “That way, you don’t run the risk of getting pulled over, getting yourself arrested, or worst-case scenario getting into a crash and seriously hurting somebody.”

Another organization involved in the efforts to stop drunk driving this weekend is the local chapter of MADD.  Cristi Walker, who works as a program specialist for the organization, says it’s main goal is to spread awareness.

“MADD sends our victim speakers out to anywhere and everywhere we can get,” Walker said.  “We talk to anywhere we can to spread the awareness that drunk driving causes deaths and it can be a tragic consequence for a preventable choice.”

Jessica Kortlang is one of the speakers involved with MADD.  She became involved after her sister Amy was killed nearly a decade ago by a drunk driver who was driving without a license.  Kortlang said being a part of MADD has helped her cope with her loss.

“I knew I just didn’t want to be another statistic, I wanted to make a change,” Kortland said.  “I wanted to prevent someone else from going through what my family and I went through. I wanted to be the change.”

Kortlang said she hopes by spreading Amy’s story, more people will think twice before driving drunk behind the wheel.  She said she still feels Amy’s presence with her every day.

“The day after she was killed we went to her apartment and a golden dragon fly flew right into my face.  Ever since that day there has been a golden dragon fly and that’s Amy.”

To learn more about MADD and its programs, visit: http://www.madd.org/local-offices/ca/san-diego/

Categories: Local San Diego News, San Diego People