WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – This holiday weekend marks the start of the “100 deadliest days” of the year.
With more drivers out on the road comes more distractions, including drunk driving.
“AAA is projecting nearly 39 million drivers out on the roads,” said Shawn Stewerd, AAA Kansas.
A projected one million more people will be traveling this holiday.
“From Memorial Day to the Labor Day holiday, it’s a very, very dangerous time for teen drivers especially,” explained Steward.
AAA says that over the past five years, the average number of crashes involving teen drivers increased 16 percent during the summer.
There’s also an increase in drunk drivers.
“This is my hand where they’re holding it while they’re trying to get the dash up off of my right leg,” recalled Gary Heath, DUI victim.
Heath’s life forever changed 23 years ago by a drunk driver.
“A van traveling over 70 miles per hour hit me head on, stopped my forward momentum and pushed me back 38 feet,” explained Heath.
First responders initially pronounced Heath dead at the scene.
“If it wasn’t for the doctors I wouldn’t be here, because I died three times,” Heath said.
Heath tells KSN the young man convicted of a DUI had been pulled over almost a dozen times before by police for being above the legal limit.
“The first year, I didn’t really care if I died or not, it was that painful,” stated Heath.
Now, decades later and still walking with a limp because of the rods in his leg, Heath is giving a strong message to the public.
”You may think you’ve got control. But, it’s been proven over and over again one drink is enough to influence you for just a split second,” said Heath.
Here’s a sobering statistic, according to AAA, there has been 162 fatal crashes so far this year in Kansas. It’s a significant increase from the past several years.