Word Count: 683Giovanni Vaccarello, a retired machinist form Brooklyn, New York, nevertook the safety of his family for granted. He often drove Maria, 18, andConcetta, 17, to their part time jobs. John, his fourteen year old son, was towear a beeper at all times so that he would never be out of reach.
Giovanniroutinely walked Cathy, his wife of twenty five years, one block to her job atthe beauty salon. But with all the precautions Giovanni took, nothing couldstop him from Abraham Meyers, a 25-year-old janitor from Brooklyn. Atabout 11:30 on May 1, 1994, Giovanni left the Russos catering hall inQueens with Cathy, Maria, and Concetta. John lingered behind as the otherscrossed the street and headed for the car. It was then that Meyers, allegedlygoing at speeds over 70 mph without headlights on, smashed into them,sending the Vaccarellos flying.
Maria and Concetta died instantly, whileCathy held on for a few hours on life support before dying. Giovanni escapedwith his leg broken in three places, but suffered a heart attack that kept him inthe hospital for a month. Meyers bloodwas tested at .2, double thelegal limit for driving while intoxicated. This was not the first time he wouldface charges for driving under the influence of alcohol, he has had his licensesuspended 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 Giovannifamily (People, October 17, 1994). Over the last fifteen years, there has beena major improvement in the number of alcohol related accidents and deaths allover the country. Between the years of 1982 and 1992, the number offatalities due to alcohol-related accidents dropped 30 percent from 25,000 to17,000.
These numbers are the direct result of hard work by the Americanpeople to put an end to drunk driving. Although it seems that much is beingdone to keep drunk drivers off the road, it seems that there is little being doneto keep repeat offenders off the road. Although there are no nation widestudies available on repeat offenders, individual states keep their own records.In Ohio, for instance, 32 percent of drunk drivers are repeat offenders, andthey are responsible for 55 percent of all drunk driving convictions. Therehave been a variety of ideas on how to keep these repeat offenders of theroad, ranging from a specialized license plate (used in Ohio) to mandatory jailsentences. On average, police estimate that for every 2,000 people who drivedrunk, one is convicted of a DUI.
Each state has its own individual way withcoping with drunk drivers and repeat offenders, but the facts dont lie. Studiesshow that every 30 minutes, a person is killed in the United States by a drunkdriver, this is the most important reason to keep drunks off the streets. Drunkdriving is stopped the same way it is started, with individual decisions.Organizations such as M.A.D.D.
(Mothers Against Drunk Driving) andS.A.D.D.
(Students Against Drunk Driving) are working in almost everycommunity around the United States to fight the war on drunk driving. Thesetwo groups, along with other organizations and institutions, are dedicated toputting an end to this horrible crime. These organizations preach theimportance of being a designated driver.
Taking responsibility and vowing notto drink could save the lives of many people. Some bars have tried toencourage designated drivers by offering them free soft drinks so they staysober. Also, many communities have set up systems that allow people to callin and report drunk drivers.
In Colorado, the REDDI program (Report EveryDrunk Driver Immediately) has received over 50,000 calls. These calls haveresulted in 10,000 cars being pulled over and 5,000 arrests (USA Today,March 1992). Although few communities have used this system, it seems towork 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 noplanning is required. This is why it takes each and every person to use everytool at his or her expense to see that it is defeated.