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Our town has countless of bad intersections. Some are as easily to point out, such as Adams Street and Delaware Avenue. Others are the few remaining intersections without four-way stop signs near Hamagrael Elementary in Delmar. None of these intersections are as dangerous as turning on to a road leading to drug addiction.
According to the Addiction Center, there are more than 20 million people in America over the age of 12 who are going through addiction. Astonishingly, that number excludes tobacco. What’s most alarming is how this figure includes young teenagers, children. But, what also needs to be pointed out is that more than 90 percent of addicts start drinking, smoking or using illicit drugs before the age of 18.
Our community is no stranger to addiction and there is no socio-economic demographic immune to the behaviors that lead to it.
There was a recent accident in Glenmont. Two cars collided at the intersection of Glenmont and River roads. A one-stop intersection just outside the Albany City Line where the speed limit drastically reduces from 55 mph. Residents familiar with the intersection immediately responded to how dangerous the one-stop intersection was. The fact that two children were involved in the crash— one infant and another 4-years-old — struck a chord with readers. Then, police releasing more information.
Without casting judgement of guilt, one of the drivers was charged by police for driving while under the influence of drugs. Though people in this country are innocent until proven guilty, the information shared by local police reminds us of how dangerous a choice it is for people to get behind the wheel while judgement is impaired, whether that be by alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, or handling a cellphone.
When each of us gets behind the wheel of a car, we are exercising a privilege granted to us only after exhibiting the knowledge and understanding of the weight behind that privilege. Quite literally, that right weighs no less than 4,000 pounds.
Our automobiles are nothing more but aerodynamic blocks of plastic, glass, aluminum and steel full of highly combustible oil and gasoline. We seldom consider, or often scoff at the thought, that while traveling twice the speed of any human on foot, these machines are piloted death traps. What keeps them from causing harm is that everyone on the road is maintaining a healthy appreciation of this fact.
We do not know if the driver was impaired by drugs or distracted by other means, that’s to be decided by the courts. But, should this be true, it would be just one of more than 9 million people who have reportedly drove while under the influence of drugs. Across the nation, drugs were present in a staggering 43 percent of drivers involved in fatal accidents — 36 percent had marijuana, while nine percent tested positive for amphetamines.
Addiction is something that should be handled with patience and compassion. It’s a level of care that often must be addressed by experts outside of the family unit. But, when addiction leads to decisions that harm other people, or the life of a child, there is little room for patience. If you are one of those people who carelessly chooses to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs, stop right now and get help.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.