DENVER (KDVR) — The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the deadliest times on the roads, and this year, Colorado is on pace for the highest number of fatal crashes in more than 15 years.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving said there is an easy fix, but they say it takes everyone making the commitment to plan ahead to get home safely.
“If everyone started planning ahead today, there would be no more drunk and drugged driving deaths tomorrow. We can stop this. We can do this together. And everyone needs to do their part to plan for a safe ride home this holiday season and everyday,” Fran Lanzer, with MADD Colorado, said.
With five weeks left in the year, suspected drunk and drugged driving fatalities have already exceeded the 2020 total. So far in 2021, 214 people have been killed in suspected drunk and drugged driving crashes on Colorado roads.
Even before this year’s surge in deaths on Colorado roads, the holidays were already among the most dangerous times on the nation’s roadways with more people traveling, an increased number of events where alcohol is served and an increase in impaired driving.
Between 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve through New Year’s Eve in 2019, there were 926 lives lost to drunk driving across the country, accounting for 29% of all traffic deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
On Thanksgiving Day 2016., Kyle Nackos and a friend were on their way home from a concert in Northern Colorado. His parents got a knock on their door in the middle of the night.
“They just said there had been a crash and Kyle didn’t make it. They said he had been hit and killed by a drunk driver driving the wrong way” on Interstate 25, his mother Julie Nackos said.
Kyle had just turned 19 and graduated from high school. He was described as fun-loving, had a great sense of humor, and cared about everyone.
“He was really in tune with what was going on around him. If someone was left out, he was that kid that would always make sure they were included,” his mother said.
His parents are sharing their heartbreaking story to encourage people to not get behind the wheel while impaired.
“We can’t stop people from drinking, but you can reach out to a friend, Uber, taxi, parents — there are so many options now. This doesn’t have to happen to any more families if people would be responsible,” Scott Nackos said.
MADD has launched its “Tie One On for Safety” campaign.
MADD partners with law enforcement agencies around the state to crack down on drunk and drugged driving. They place red ribbons on patrol cars to remind them of the victims and survivors and the importance of the mission. But they say it’s going to take everyone in the community doing their part.
“Everyone needs to be taking that easy step to plan ahead, because you are saving lives, you are saving someone’s friend, family member, when you make the choice to plan ahead,” Lanzer said.
That is the message Kyle Nackos’ parents want to share.
“If we can get through this day and help one person not to drink and drive or to save a life, then we are willing to go through this to save other’s lives,” Scott Nackos said.