December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month and the leadership of U.S. Army Garrison Torii Station has launched a comprehensive campaign to raise awareness about the dangers and consequences of driving while impaired.

The statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are staggering: 42,000 people die each year in automobile crashes -- and more than 16,000 are the result of a driver who got behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is important to note that these deaths are preventable.

National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, also known as the "3D" Month, aims to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related automobile incidents on Okinawa. On Torii Station, law enforcement personnel are passing out informational flyers, hanging posters in barracks and common areas and creating educational classes on DUI/DWI's for Soldiers and Army leaders. They also are conducting DUI/DWI Check points as a visual deterrence and to catch those who decide to place others in jeopardy by driving while intoxicated.

But the Army is not conducting the campaign alone. Law enforcement personnel from all U.S. military services on Okinawa are participating, working together across all bases in Okinawa to conduct check points. The goal is to provide a safer holiday season for U.S. Forces, Civilians and Family members living on Okinawa.

In addition to highlighting the enormity of problems created by impaired driving, NHTSA statistics show there is an increase in impaired driving accidents during the Christmas/New Year holiday season. 3D Month reminds us to "Designate before we Celebrate" and encourages safe and sober driving, as well as the use of designated drivers.

Lt. Col. Eric A. Martinez, Commander for USAG Torii Station, recognizes the importance of the 3D campaign -- not just for the holiday season, but year round. Martinez is leveraging the assets of several Garrison directorates to implement the program, and he is fully committed to its three pillars: prevention, leaders' involvement and individual responsibility to do what is right.

John Moulden, President of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, put the problem of impaired driving in blunt terms that everyone can understand.

"Drunk and drugged driving is one of the most serious public health problems we face today because it is experienced in every community across the nation. While it threatens our stability in human and economic terms, the personal effects of impaired driving are the most devastating."