Holiday death toll on our highways isn’t just a number – those statistics are real victims

Let’s all remember to be careful out there on the roadways as the unofficial start of summer begins

Across the United States, the Memorial Day holiday weekend began last Friday and hundreds of thousands of motorists took to the highways and roadways for vacations, cook-outs, family gatherings and more.

Sadly, traffic accidents involving serious injuries and deaths were also part of this holiday weekend’s travels on our roadways.

One thing to remember is that the highway death statistics that police around the nation will be gathering and announcing in the next week or two are not just faceless numbers. Behind all the statistics, those people who died had names and lives and families and life stories all of their own.

That’s why this is a fine time to remind ourselves to drive carefully as the summer travel season begins so that we can protect ourselves, the people we love and everyone else out there traveling the roads with us.

Stock image of a serious car accident.

Image credit: ©

It’s a great time to remind ourselves not to drink alcohol or take illegal drugs and drive. Alcohol, controlled substances and driving not only don’t mix but they are deadly combinations that bring tragedy and sorrow to thousands of families each year who lose loved ones due to the terrible decisions of impaired drivers.

It’s also a great time to remember that we must pay complete attention to our driving when we are behind the wheel. That means getting rid of distractions that can endanger ourselves, our passengers and everyone else on the roads with us. That means not texting while driving. That means not using hand-held cell phones while driving. That means not eating a big messy sandwich while driving and not putting on make-up or reading the morning newspaper while driving.

It happens everywhere, every day.

It happened Sunday morning on the streets of Los Angeles, according to a story in The Los Angeles Times.

“A 14-year-old victim in a suspected drunk-driving accident early Sunday morning suffered irreversible brain damage and was being kept on life support so doctors could assess whether her organs could be donated, according to Irvine police,” the story reported. “Police identified the victim as Ashton Sweet, a student at Northwood High School.”

The teen was one of four teen girls who were traveling in a car being driven by the dad of one of the girls, the paper reported. The car they were traveling in was struck by a pick-up truck being driven by a 26-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, according to the paper. “By daybreak Monday, friends and strangers were posting condolences and anti-drunk-driving messages on a Facebook page set up in Sweet’s honor.”

The suspect, according to the paper, has had other incidents involving drinking and driving, including a guilty plea in 2009 to “driving under the influence and battery on a police officer or emergency worker.”

In New Jersey, the State Police announced last week that 230 people have died so far this year in accidents on New Jersey highways, which is up almost 18% from the 195 fatalities for the same period last year, according to a story on “Officials say there’s no clear reason for the spike, but an early analysis indicates distracted driving may be a factor,” the Web site reported.

We need to learn from these deaths and find ways to prevent them so that innocent people don’t die on our highways due to the poor decisions of others.

We must remember 14-year-old Ashton Sweet in Los Angeles and learn something from the horrific tragedy that is now upon her family as they prepare to take their young daughter off life support systems after she was critically injured in a crash by a drunk driver.

This is in our hands, every one of us, as we drive on our roadways.

Let us take the responsibility to make better decisions to protect those around us.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer handle serious injury cases every day for our clients who have been injured in similar horrific crashes. We know what these incidents do to families, victims and their lives.

If you or someone you love should be injured in a serious vehicle accident, call us here at MyPhillyLawyer and we will fight for you, help you, answer all of your questions about your case and walk you through the legal maze in fighting for you every step of the way.

When winning matters most, contact MyPhillyLawyer.