During the final days of summer leading up to the Labor Day weekend, Arkansas families and friends will come together for seasonal celebrations. It’s a dangerous time during this season as drunk drivers inevitably take their chances by getting into the driver seat of their vehicle and head toward the next party or try to make it home.
The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office is 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,” begins August 19th and continues through September 5th. “Zero Tolerance” for drunk driving is the standing order for local and state law enforcement officers. In addition to sobriety checkpoints and an increased number of officers on the roads, there will be localized and national media messaging about the dangers of driving drunk.
According to NHTSA, on average, over 10,000 people died each year (2010 to 2014) in drunk driving crashes. During the 2014 Labor Day holiday weekend, 40 percent of crash fatalities involved motor vehicle drivers or motorcycle operators who were legally impaired with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08 or higher, resulting in 162 deaths.
“This is a serious and important message,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Don’t trust yourself to drive when you drink alcohol. You may think you aren’t drunk, but even a small amount of alcohol can impair your judgment and ability to drive safely. Driving impaired is a crime that risks your life and the lives of loved ones. The consequences are severe and life changing.”
In addition to injuries or fatalities from a crash, drunk drivers run the risk of jail time, loss of driver license, installation of ignition interlocks on their vehicles and court ordered community service. The financial impact is also considerable, including higher vehicle insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and the potential loss of job or job prospects.
“Drunk driving is totally inexcusable, and it’s preventable,” said Colonel Bryant. “We’re hoping that Arkansas drivers get the message and clearly understand, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office recommends:
• Always plan ahead whenever you expect to drive and consume alcohol.
• Designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
• If you have been drinking, call a taxi, take the bus or call a sober friend or family member to get you to your destination safely.
• Promptly report to law enforcement drunk drivers you see on the roadways.
• Always wear your seat belt.
• If you’re on a motorcycle, use protective equipment.
For more information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visit TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For more on the ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign, visit TZDarkansas.org.