It’s the time of year when we are focused more than ever on our families and friends. Holidays bring Americans together across political, religious and cultural divides. The easiest way for most of us in the St. Louis metro to go and visit those who are important to us is to get in our cars, pick-ups and SUVs and drive there.

Unfortunately, this time of year is fraught with road danger. The risks of being involved in a motor vehicle crash caused by an impaired driver rises dramatically during the holiday season. Last year, impaired drivers were in 21 percent of all Missouri traffic fatalities.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety says that 198 people died on the state’s streets and highways. Another 607 suffered serious injuries in wrecks caused by people impaired by alcohol or drugs or a combination of both.

Young drivers are perhaps the most dangerous of all to themselves and to those with whom they share the roads. From 2013 to 2017, impaired drivers under age 21 were in 76 fatal accidents and 232 crashes involving serious injuries. All told, 99 people died in these violent collisions and another 324 were seriously injured.

For those readers who plan to share time with friends and families, please make sure to use a designated driver. If that is not possible, do not get behind the wheel after consuming any amount of alcohol. Please use public transportation or call a cab or ride-share vehicle instead. Your life and the lives of innocent motorists depends on it.