Giovanni Vaccarello, a retired machinist form Brooklyn, New York, never
took the safety of his family for granted. He often drove Maria, 18, and
Concetta, 17, to their part time jobs. John, his fourteen year old son, was to
wear a beeper at all times so that he would never be out of reach. Giovanni
routinely walked Cathy, his wife of twenty five years, one block to her job at
the beauty salon. But with all the precautions Giovanni took, nothing could
stop him from Abraham Meyers, a 25-year-old janitor from Brooklyn. At
about 11:30 on May 1, 1994, Giovanni left the Russo’s catering hall in
Queens with Cathy, Maria, and Concetta. John lingered behind as the others
crossed the street and headed for the car. It was then that Meyers, allegedly
going at speeds over 70 mph without headlights on, smashed into them,
sending the Vaccarello’s flying. Maria and Concetta died instantly, while
Cathy held on for a few hours on life support before dying. Giovanni escaped
with his leg broken in three places, but suffered a heart attack that kept him in
the hospital for a month. Meyers’ blood alcohol was tested at .2, double the
legal limit for driving while intoxicated. This was not the first time he would
face charges for driving under the influence of alcohol, he has had his license
suspended 26 times and has drunk driving convictions dating back to 1967.
Although Meyers kept driving without a license, he never spent one day in jail.
He now faces up to life in prison, but this is of no consolation to the Giovanni
family (People, October 17, 1994). Over the last fifteen years, there has been
a major improvement in the number of alcohol related accidents and deaths all
over the country. Between the years of 1982 and 1992, the number of
fatalities due to alcohol-related accidents dropped 30 percent from 25,000 to
17,000. These numbers are the direct result of hard work by the American
people to put an end to drunk driving. Although it seems that much is being
done to keep drunk drivers off the road, it seems that there is little being done
to keep repeat offenders off the road. Although there are no nation wide
studies available on repeat offenders, individual states keep their own records.
In Ohio, for instance, 32 percent of drunk drivers are repeat offenders, and
they are responsible for 55 percent of all drunk driving convictions. There
have been a variety of ideas on how to keep these repeat offenders of the
road, ranging from a specialized license plate (used in Ohio) to mandatory jail
sentences. On average, police estimate that for every 2,000 people who drive
drunk, one is convicted of a DUI. Each state has its own individual way with
coping with drunk drivers and repeat offenders, but the facts don’t lie. Studies
show that every 30 minutes, a person is killed in the United States by a drunk
driver, this is the most important reason to keep drunks off the streets. Drunk
driving is stopped the same way it is started, with individual decisions.
Organizations such as M.A.D.D.(Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and
S.A.D.D.(Students Against Drunk Driving) are working in almost every
community around the United States to fight the war on drunk driving. These
two groups, along with other organizations and institutions, are dedicated to
putting an end to this horrible crime. These organizations preach the
importance of being a designated driver. Taking responsibility and vowing not
to drink could save the lives of many people. Some bars have tried to
encourage designated drivers by offering them free soft drinks so they stay
sober. Also, many communities have set up systems that allow people to call
in and report drunk drivers. In Colorado, the REDDI program (Report Every
Drunk Driver Immediately) has received over 50,000 calls. These calls have
resulted in 10,000 cars being pulled over and 5,000 arrests (USA Today,
March 1992). Although few communities have used this system, it seems to
work very well. The biggest way to fight Drunk Driving is to become involved.
Drunk driving is a crime of unique proportions. Few offenses are as horrifying,
but none are easier to commit. Typical weapons are not involved and no
planning is required. This is why it takes each and every person to use every
tool at his or her expense to see that it is defeated.

Category: Social Issues