No one’s more aware of March Madness than those of us here in basketball-crazy North Carolina. It’s been even madder with the storms that have relentlessly slammed us as winter has seemed to be winding up when it should be winding down.
But speaking of foul weather, events in March come together in such a way that brings about a perfect storm: a nasty blizzard of DUIs.
I certainly don’t want to cast a pall on the merriment that goes on this time of year. I simply want to weigh in with a word of caution.
When you think about it, you can bet there’s not a much better month for making merry. Of course, there was the ACC Tournament, right here in Greensboro this year. And now the NCAA tourney is cranking up and running through April 7. These events lend plenty of opportunities for parties and good times – but great as they are, they also offer ample opportunities for overindulgence in alcohol.
Then add college spring break into the mix. A lot of kids head home, with thoughts of reuniting with high school friends. It combines the exuberance of youth plus young brains drained of thoughts of studying and refilled with thoughts of partying. Thankfully the legal drinking age puts alcohol off limits for the majority of college students, but like a serpent it can insinuate itself into social situations regardless of underage laws.*
And even the notion of a snake brings to mind another social occasion. St. Patrick may have driven the legless reptiles out of Ireland, but the day celebrated in his honor is unfortunately rather well-known for imbibing – and too many a person has driven after doing so.
In reviewing accident reports, I saw nearly a half dozen instances of driving while impaired charges in Greensboro from Sunday alone – a miserable, drizzly day for driving even without any alcohol in one’s system.
The recent icy weather has been cause enough for any reasonable person to think twice before getting behind the wheel unless they absolutely have to. But alcohol is the enemy of reason if there ever was one. Statistics show it: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2012 more than 10,000 people in the nation died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
The bottom line: Don’t drink and drive anytime, be it during the madness of March, the fun of the 4th of July, or any bright sunny day without a cloud in the sky. Drunken driving is a game with nothing to win and everything to lose.
*According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol consumption contributes to more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth, that is, persons less than 21 years of age, in the United States each year.