The end of summer is traditionally marked by the Labor Day holiday, a time for our country to reflect on the hard work of our fellow Americans. The long weekend is typically celebrated with picnics, pool parties, and barbecues, as families/friends enjoy the last few days of summer before fall/winter approach. Sadly, the Labor Day holiday is also one of the deadliest, with drunk drivers endangering themselves and others on America’s roadways. This year, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office and SAFE Coalition are partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to stop drunk drivers and help save lives. The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs from August 16 - September 4, 2017. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.
Statistics show a frightening trend in drunk-driving. According to NHTSA, 10,265 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2015, an increase from the 9,967 people killed in 2014. On average, 10,000 people were killed each year from 2011 to 2015—one person killed every 51 minutes in 2015. That’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors. This is why the Sheriff’s Office and Coalition are working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death. As you head out to Labor Day festivities, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
Over the Labor Day holiday period in 2015, there were 460 crash fatalities nationwide. Forty percent of those fatal crashes involved drivers who had been drinking (.01+ BAC). Of those alcohol-related fatal crashes, one third (33%) involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ BAC), and nearly one-fourth (23%) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the illegal limit (.15+ BAC). Nighttime is the most dangerous time to be out on the roads: During the 2015 Labor Day holiday period, 78 percent of drunk-driving crash fatalities occurred between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. – as compared to half of all drunk-driving crash fatalities throughout the rest of the year.
We’re stressing the dangers of driving impaired to our community. Drunk driving is a massive problem in the United States, with more than 10,000 people dying annually. If you’re out on the roads and you see someone driving drunk, please call the Sheriff’s Office. You could help save a life.
The Sheriff’s Office, SAFE Coalition, and NHTSA are reminding citizens of the many resources available to get them home safely. Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior. It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why, during the Labor Day holiday, we will make zero exceptions for drunk driving. There are just no excuses. The Sheriff’s Office and Coalition recommend safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
· Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver to get you home safely.
· Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app available on Google Play for Android devices: (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nhtsa.SaferRide&hl=en), and Apple’s iTunes Store for IOS devices: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/saferride/id950774008?mt=8). SaferRide allows users to call a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so they can be picked up.
· If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Sheriff’s Office.
· Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.