I went to bed last night with the thought of writing a blog post this morning about drinking and driving in response to the recent arrests of some professional athletes for DUI. But before I could even get out of bed, I heard the news about Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart dying as a result of a DUI-related accident overnight.
I had originally planned to call out the likes of Joba Chamberlain, Donte Stallworth, Zach Randolph and Leon Hall. Pro athletes make way too much money and have way too much at stake not to have a designated driver. If you can afford a Rolls Royce Phantom, you can afford a driver.
However, I was also going to point out that pro athletes should not be held to a higher standard when it comes to drinking and driving. When you consider that over 1.46 million drivers were arrested in 2006 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, you know that doctors, lawyers, teachers and executive VP's accounted for more DUI arrests than professional athletes. Their arrests just don't make Page One of the country's sports pages, nor are they the lead on SportsCenter.
This problem, though, is not about athletes thinking they are invincible. This problem is about all of us thinking something tragic will never happen to us. Well, we all need to wise up.
*In 2007, an estimated 12,998 people died in drunk driving related crashes. Those deaths constitute 31.7% of the 41,059 total traffic fatalities in 2007.
*On average someone is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes.
*About three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.
Talk about sobering news. Those statistics, courtesy of MADD, suggest that we are more likely to be involved in a DUI-related accident than to visit a foreign country. More Americans will die this year after drinking White Russians than those who will actually visit Russia.
But don't think this sermon is being delivered without sin. I am not proud to say that I have gotten behind the wheel of my car more than once when I probably shouldn't have. For someone who refuses to co-sign stupidity, I consider those incidents some of the most stupid things I have ever done in my life. I was just fortunate to have avoided tragedy. Now, I am committed to avoiding even the possibility of a DUI.
I just hope the rest of America joins me.