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The upcoming Fourth of July celebration offers an ideal time to talk about freedom. We may not often consider some freedoms - the freedom to travel safe from the threat of alcohol and other drug-impaired driving; freedom from the threat of a violent, life-threatening traffic crash; and freedom from fear of resulting serious injury or even death.

These freedoms may be ones you and I take for granted, but for the more than 17,000 Americans who are killed each year in alcohol-related traffic crashes, they are freedoms destroyed. And for the more than 1.2 million who are injured each year, some permanently, they are freedoms denied.One of the most effective ways to protect people from the dangers of impaired driving is the use of sobriety checkpoints. Sobriety checkpoints help the police detect and deter impaired drivers and present only a minimal delay to travelers, while they help raise awareness of enforcement of DUI laws. This year, MADD and Nationwide Insurance are encouraging all law enforcement agencies to utilize this life-saving measure, especially during the week of June 28-July 5.

One of the best protections against death or injury in an alcohol or other drug-related crash is safety belt use. Sobriety checkpoints also provide a highly effective opportunity for police to remind travelers to "buckle up."

Connie Harton

MADD president, Salt Lake County Chapter