SEARCY, Ark. - As law enforcement officers, we unfortunately see death and tragedy often, and it never gets easier—especially when they are preventable. In 2015, there were 10,265 people killed in drunk-driving-related crashes on our nation’s roadways. This number accounted for nearly one-third of the total number of crash fatalities for the year. That means almost a third of all crashes in 2015 could have been completely avoided if everyone had made the decision not to drink and drive. More than 10,000 friends and family members would still be alive today if each of those drunk drivers had put down their keys and planned for a safe, sober ride home instead.
Impaired driving often peaks during holidays, and Labor Day is one of the most dangerous holiday periods. Families and friends head out to picnics and cookouts, hoping to catch those last few rays of sun before they settle in for the long winter. With increased traffic comes an increased chance for traffic crashes. However, this shouldn’t include an increase in impaired driving. This Labor Day, as you head out to make the most of the last days of summer, know that Searcy Police Department is partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and law enforcement agencies nationwide August 16-September 4 to help put an end to drunk driving. If you are caught drinking and driving, you will be arrested—no excuses. You can thank us, too, because we may have just saved your life, or someone else’s. Remember the campaign motto: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
According to NHTSA, 10,265 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2015, an increase from the 9,967 people killed in 2014. That was one person every 51 minutes in 2015. In 2015 fatal crashes, the 21- to 24-year-old age group had the highest percentage (28%) of drivers with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher, compared to other age groups. Another scary statistic? The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes at night was 3.5 times higher than those that occurred during the day. These statistics are being collected every day, every year. Don’t become one of this year’s statistics.
Over the 2015 Labor Day holiday period, there were 460 total crash fatalities nationwide. Nearly one third (33%) of these fatalities involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ BAC), and nearly one-fourth (23%) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC). Among those between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2015, 44 percent of those fatalities involved drunk drivers with BACs of .08 or higher.
This Labor Day, and every day, the decision to not drink and drive shouldn’t be a tough one. If you drink and drive, you could kill yourself or someone else. If you cannot control your own behavior, a law enforcement officer will. We will be out finding drunk drivers during the holiday period, showing zero tolerance for anyone driving drunk. If we find you driving drunk, you will be arrested. Do not make excuses—everyone knows it is against the law to drink and drive in every state and Washington, D.C. And remember that drinking alcohol lowers inhibitions, causing you to make bad decisions you would not otherwise make. Do not trust yourself when you drink: alcohol impairs your judgement and ability to recognize that you are drunk.
When someone chooses to drive drunk, they not only put themselves and their passengers at risk, but they endanger pedestrians, bicyclists, and others on the road. In 2015, while 63 percent of those killed in drunk-driving crashes were the drunk drivers themselves, another 15 percent were their passengers, and 14 percent were occupants of other vehicles. Tragically, nearly 1 in 5 children (14 and younger) killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2015 were killed in drunk-driving crashes; 51 percent of the time, it was the child’s driver who was drunk.
The Labor Day holiday should be a special time for friends and families to mark the end of summer. It should end with good memories, not marked by tragedy. Impaired driving is 100-percent preventable. This Labor Day weekend, we’ll be working hard to spread the word about the dangers of drunk driving through education and increased enforcement. It’s time to end the deadly, criminal behavior of drunk driving.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over national high-visibility enforcement campaign ends on September 4. However, our commitment to enforcing drunk-driving laws will continue throughout the year. Drunk driving is never okay. If you are planning to drink, plan ahead for a sober ride home. Even one drink is one too many. There are options to get you home safely, including public transportation, trusted friends or relatives, or using NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app to call a taxi or friend, available at www.nhtsa.gov/link/saferride/.
For more information about the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign, please visit www.TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov.