True numbers aren't in yet

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Editorial: Jan. 19, 2012

Here’s the thing about statistics. You can find one to support any point.
It might be tempting to run with the numbers concerning driving under the influence arrests between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2 — the first holiday week after beer sales started in three Hardin County cities. We should tap the brakes on that idea.
During that week, nine were arrested for DUI in Elizabethtown, five in Radcliff and one in Vine Grove. During the same period the prior year, seven were arrested for DUI in Elizabethtown, one in Radcliff and two in Vine Grove.
That does not mean beer sales triggered an increase in drunken driving in Elizabethtown and Radcliff. And it does not mean beer sales cut drunken driving in half in Vine Grove, either.
As law enforcement officials have said, many variables are at play. The location and number of officers and whether drivers are aware of patrols or checkpoints are factors, for example.
The effect of beer sales has not been studied. It’s unknown if those arrested had been drinking beer or if that beer was purchased in a local store.
Also, the holiday week is a window too tight to reveal any trend.
Area law enforcement agencies, including Kentucky State Police Post 4, made 22 DUI arrests that week. We’re thankful they were there to pull those dangerous, thoughtless drivers off the road.
Surely there were others who weren’t caught. And it’s likely some of them would choose to drink and drive regardless of the results of the local option.
It will take two or three years of data to reveal any relationship between drunken driving and the increased availability of alcohol, one police spokesman said.
Responsibility is the wedge in that relationship. It’s the personal responsibility all drinkers must accept not to drink and drive. It’s the responsibility we have to our loved ones when we take the keys or call the cab. It’s the responsibility we have to our community when we speak out against drunken driving.
The numbers will come in eventually. Let’s not jump to conclusions. Instead, let’s do what we can to ensure the stats will be something Hardin County can live with.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.