Local Tragedy and What We Each Can Do

The blog post below was submitted by Dr. Rick Silver, Founder and Director of The THRIVE Center, located in Columbia:

Here’s the story:

·         January 30th, 1:00 AM, Rt 103, Howard County -- Biik Chong, 26, is killed when his car is T-boned by a vehicle driven by Natalia Diaz-Valle, 18. Diaz-Valle, who may have been drinking, fails to stop at a red light while traveling 70 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. The accident occurs as she is trying to evade a pursuing Maryland State trooper. A passenger in her car is charged with illegal possession of more than 120 Xanax pills. 

Here’s some good news:

·         In 2014, according to Maryland transportation officials, traffic fatalities in our state hit a 66-year low: 442 deaths on the road, compared with 872 in 1968. This decades-long decline includes a substantial drop in fatalities related to drunken and impaired driving.

And here’s some bad:

·         In each of the past five years, police in the state have made more than 20,000 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol. In 2014, someone was killed as a result of impaired driving every 66 hours in Maryland — 30 percent of the year's traffic deaths.

The fact that more people aren’t killed on our roads can be attributed to federal, state and local initiatives to enhance highway safety over the course of decades — including enforcement initiatives to pull drunken drivers off the roads.

But the sobering truth is that – despite Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn’s laudable and hopeful goal of reaching zero deaths – alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities remain a serious national problem.

Saving lives starts at home. Every one of us needs to play an active role in this effort. As a Howard County parent, take the basic steps to keep our young people alive, safe from the devastating impact of uncontrolled drug and alcohol use:

·         Lock up your controlled substances – pain killers, anxiety medications – if you still need them for a health or mental health problem

·         Use safe methods to discard the leftover pills when you don’t need them anymore

·         Talk to your kids about sharing prescription drugs with friends – it’s a felony that can result in jail time and a lifetime criminal record

·         Educate yourself and your children about the harm that can come from careless use of illegal drugs, alcohol and prescription substances

·         Give your kids “safe outs” – ways to exit social situations where they are uncomfortable because of drug and alcohol use

·         And most importantly: talk to and watch your kids – if you think they are getting into trouble with drugs and alcohol, act sooner rather than later to GET THEM PROFESSIONAL HELP.

As we saw again on January 30th, drugs and alcohol can be unforgiving. The consequences of our not acting assertively to control inappropriate substance use are tragic. Do your part to keep our children alive.