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Truly, how serious a problem is drunk driving nationally?

From the standpoint of the millions of American drivers who choose to take a conscientious stance by not ever drinking and driving, the purposeful decision of a motorist to get behind the wheel while drunk is egregiously selfish behavior.

Of course, that person -- whether in Illinois or any other state -- puts himself or herself at immediate risk of personal injury.

In tragically sad outcomes that are played out time and again each year on American roadways, though, an inebriated motorist who is directly responsible for causing an accident walks away unscathed while leaving devastation behind.

Far too frequently, that means death for drivers and passengers in other vehicles who simply suffered bad luck from simultaneously sharing the road with a drunk driver.

The relevant statistics on DWI/DUI-related fatalities are both eye-opening and immensely sad. According to a recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration press release, a driver or passenger somewhere in the country dies about every 51 minutes as a result of a crash involving one or more drunk motorists.

And here's another NHTSA-supplied number that puts the risks of drunk driving in a truly chilling perspective: More than 10,000 people die annually in DUI accidents.

If such a number was attached to an outbreak of a medical disease or condition, national media outlets would surely be using the term "epidemic" to describe it.

This post seeks to remind all Illinois motorists to take special care while out on state roads and interstates over the next several days. Labor Day is fast approaching, and transportation corridors are packed with late-season vacationers and other persons seeking to enjoy the last days of summer.

Law enforcement agencies are watching drivers with extra vigilance currently and into next week, with the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over DWI/DUI enforcement campaign presently being in effect.

Hopefully that initiative has a salutary safety effect for Illinois motorists and their passengers.

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