December 13, 2012

Inside Insurance: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the drunkest one of all?

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) warns that Georgia motorists are on track for an increase in this year’s highway fatalities for the first time in six years.

Last year, 1,226 people died on the state’s roadways. That is why this year’s holiday catch- phrase from GOHS is “If you don’t drive sober, you’ll get pulled over.”

While catch phrases have a longstanding tradition in road safety programs, it is a good idea to pay attention to this one since law enforcement is getting tougher on drivers who put others at risk on the state’s roadways. Just for the record, so are insurers.

Year-end holidays are a time for office parties and gatherings of friends and family. There is no shortage of alcoholic drinks for most of these events and therein lies the problem.

Drunk driving never takes a holiday. That’s why law enforcement is joined ever year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) and other interested groups. It’s the same story over and over.

“Just one more.” “I can handle it.” “I’m fine.” “No problem!” These phrases are often the last words friends, loved ones and bartenders often hear as the impaired driver heads down the road.

If you “can’t handle it” and are convicted of drunk driving, you face numerous consequences. In Georgia, even on a first offense you are likely to face a one-year suspension of your license, one of the strictest punishments in the country. Convicted drunk drivers also face vehicle confiscation, possible jail time up to one year, and may have to pay a fine anywhere from $300 to $1,000. If that doesn’t deter you, consider a huge increase in insurance premiums or, worse yet, your auto insurance is non-renewed when you do get out of jail.

Think this is harsh? You know it! When it comes to drunk driving, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a sports figure, a movie star or the next-door neighbor. The lesson here is that we as individuals are responsible for our actions.

The fact is one can blame the bartender, the party host, the company that hosted the event, or you can blame drunk driving on personal problems, various other circumstances or do what is the most difficult … look in a mirror.

If that doesn’t help, the federal safety board is recommending that all states require ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers, including first-time offenders. The five-member National Transportation Safety Board said the devices are currently the best available solution to reducing drunk driving deaths, which account for about a third of the nation’s 32,000 traffic deaths each year. In particular, the board cited a new study by its staff that found some 360 people a year are killed in wrong-way driving crashes on high-speed highways. The study concluded that 69 percent of wrong-way drivers had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit of .08.

Let’s really be careful out there this year.

David Colmans is executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service, an industry association of property and casualty insurance companies that does business in Georgia. Contact him by email at

Text Only
  • Metro Dalton’s unemployment rate up to 8.8 percent in May

    The unemployment rate for Metro Dalton — Whitfield and Murray counties — increased to 8.8 percent in May, up from 8.2 percent in April, the Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday.

    June 26, 2014

  • Powells back open 1 mlh.jpg Town Square Cafe carries on Powell’s tradition

    The sign above the door at 116 W. King St. may be different, but many of the faces inside remain the same.
    Jenny Lynch, owner of the Town Square Cafe, said she has retained many of the staff and even some of the recipes from Powell’s Country Kitchen, which had been a downtown Dalton landmark in the building since 1979.

    June 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Region earns ‘manufacturing community’ designation

    Northwest Georgia, including Whitfield and Murray counties, has been chosen as one of 12 regions nationwide that could get federal funds to sustain and expand manufacturing.

    June 1, 2014

  • Siegle, James-ColOR.jpg Synthetic turn pioneer Jim Siegle dies

    He was known as “The Grand Gentleman of Turf.”

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Metro Dalton’s jobless rate falls again

    Metro Dalton’s unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent in April, down from 8.6 percent in March, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

    May 22, 2014

  • Community & Southern Holdings to acquire Alliance National Bank

    Community & Southern Holdings Inc. said Friday it has reached an agreement to acquire Alliance Bancshares Inc. and its subsidiary, Alliance National Bank.

    May 16, 2014

  • Biz expo '14 2 mlh.jpg At energetic expo, local business owners see signs of economic rebound

    “You give it your all.”
    That’s the biggest lesson Hank Fetzer says he learned after he helped start a business last year with his father Stan. But the importance of having drive, something his father taught him, also meant his father was someone he “didn’t see much” growing up.

    May 1, 2014 4 Photos

  • Carolyn Roan: What are you looking for?

    In my last column, I wrote about how important it is to get pre-qualified for a loan before starting a new home search. If you’re a seller you also need to understand the thought processes that buyers go through when they’re choosing a new home.

    April 25, 2014

  • Feds: home health company paying $150M settlement

    Amedisys Inc., a Baton Rouge-based home health company with operations in Whitfield and Murray counties, will pay $150 million to resolve allegations that it inflated Medicare billings and had improper financial relationships with referring physicians, the U.S. Department of Justice said this week.

    April 24, 2014

  • Metro Dalton’s unemployment rate declines to 8.6 percent in March

    The Georgia Department of Labor said today that Metro Dalton’s unemployment rate decreased to 8.6 percent in March, down from 9.1 percent in February. The rate was 10.4 percent in March a year ago.

    April 24, 2014