While the horrible consequences of driving under the influence are certainly newsworthy, and printing them represents one approach toward discouraging the deadly combination, I think The Times is shockingly remiss in its responsibility to its readers . . . to give them all the positive, action-encouraging information about the work being done all year round to save lives and the need for individual involvement.
On page 31 of the Dec. 16 Times, there was a one-sentence paragraph about President Reagan declaring this Dec. 14-20 to be National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Week. On Dec. 15, the front page of the Metro section carried an article, dominated by a huge, grisly photo of a charred auto wreck, relating the story of six people killed in a crash caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol.
Back in June, a story ran in View about poor police investigation of the death of my son, Matthew, by another driver under the influence. Important information was also supplied about Mayor Bradley declaring that first week in June Mothers Against Drunk Driving Week in Los Angeles. A number of major events were planned to involve the community with MADD, to raise public awareness through education programs and to raise funds. I was told there was "no room" to print that information.
It seems the hook always has to be the current horror and tragedy. Well, the hook really is the total of 461 deaths and 17,600 injuries in 1985, in Los Angeles County alone, from driving under the influence; and the over 318 deaths in Los Angeles County and over 1,745 deaths statewide to date in 1986.
The writer is the president of the Los Angeles chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.