Editor's Viewpoint: Figures are a sobering reminder of how the foolish, selfish few are still causing misery by choosing to drink and drive
The news that 16 road deaths last year - the highest for five years - were directly due to drivers under the influence of drink or drugs should shock all of us. That statistic reveals more people are disregarding the warnings not to get behind the wheel after taking alcohol or drugs. As the PSNI begins its annual festive season clampdown on drink-driving, one wonders what enters the mind of those who ignore what has been one of the lynchpins of road safety campaigns for many years and which had seen a reduction in the overall death toll, including those tragedies attributable to drink or drugs.
'Don't drink and drive' was a message most people had embraced, either choosing to travel by taxi or taking a designated driver along on nights out.
To an extent, drink-drivers in recent years were looked upon as pariahs, people with such a disregard for their own lives or others that they were prepared to take a deadly gamble.
And anyone who doubts the devastation drink-drivers can cause should read the words of Peter Dolan in this newspaper today. His son Enda was killed by a driver high on booze and drugs three years ago.
Not a day goes past without his family wondering what the Queen's University student would be doing now in his personal life and his career if that selfish killer had made a different decision on the night of the fatal incident that saw the young man die as he walked along Belfast's Malone Road back to his digs.
Little wonder that his dad wants stiffer sentences for those who take the lives of others through drink-driving.
Essentially, what drink-drivers are doing is loading a lethal weapon - and anyone could wander into its sights.
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It is completely indefensible and there should be no sympathy for those found guilty of it. They will lose their driving licences, possibly their jobs, and even their lives, or cause the deaths of others. Is that what they really want to raise a glass to?