WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – One of the most exciting times of the year, is also one of the most dangerous.
The world bids farewell to 2016 and will ring in 2017 this weekend.
While people are out having a good time, officials are asking you to be smart before getting behind the wheel.
“Between Christmas and New Year’s we see a significant increase,” explains Humberto Aldava, Court Liaison, Kansas DUI Impact Center.
According to the Kansas DUI Impact Center, around 10,000 people die from impaired driving ever year.
In 2015, during the New Year’s holiday period, the nation lost an average of 31 lives per day because of drunk driving.
“It’s a choice you make and that choice can last with you for the rest of your life and all it takes it one accident,” says Aldava.
It was just one accident that forever changed Wichitan, Michele Richardson and her family’s life.
In 2015, Richardson’s 20-year-old son, Jake, made a fateful choice to get behind the wheel after having some drinks with his buddies.
“He had been drinking and ran off a bridge,” recalls Richardson.
Jake had been missing for more than a day before his loved ones found his car completely totaled.
“As a parent you don’t want to imagine that your child has gone,” states Richardson.
The passing of her son sent a wave of devastation throughout the Richardson family. A loss, they’ll never get back, because Jake made the choice to drive while intoxicated.
“I don’t want him to be forgotten. If our tragedy can touch even one person’s life than at least something good would have come from his death,” says Richardson.
Since the tragic death of her son, Richardson has decided to be an advocate against drunk driving, and a voice for the thousands who are affected by it every year.
This grieving mother is asking the public to think twice this holiday season.
“Plan ahead of time, to have someone drive them where ever they’re going after they’ve been drinking, just don’t chance it,” says Richardson.
Law enforcement will be out in full force this weekend.
Officials also advise anyone out driving these next couple of days, if you see someone swerving or acting like their impaired out on the roads to call 911 immediately.