|Law enforcement to ‘saturate’ roads during holiday |
|Saturation patrols and seatbelt checkpoints are on the agenda for local law enforcement. |
The Martin Police Department will be conducting a New Year’s Eve Seatbelt Checkpoint between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Dec. 31.
The MPD will be looking to help increase the safety of Tennessee roadways by getting out the message that “Seat belts Save Lives.”
The MPD, along with the Governors Highway Safety Office and all agencies across the state, will have stepped up enforcement for the entire holiday season, especially for the New Year’s holiday.
According to national statistics, the death rate on the highways is 36 per day but during the Christmas period it increases to 45 per day and during the New Year’s period it jumps to 54 highway deaths per day.
Roadblocks are also scheduled regionally for Obion, Crockett, Lake, Dyer, Haywood, Lauderdale, Shelby and Tipton counties.
“The Tennessee Highway Patrol is dedicated to making sure everyone arrives at their destinations safely this holiday season,” said THP spokesman Mike Browning. “State Troopers will be out in force looking for impaired drivers and those breaking the law as part of a special holiday enforcement plan, ‘Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.’”
Troopers, including administrative personnel, will conduct saturation patrols and more than a hundred sobriety and driver license checkpoints across the state, now through the first weekend of 2008.
“The focus of this effort is saving lives,” Gov. Phil Bredesen said.
“I urge all Tennesseans and travelers passing through our state to obey the laws designed to keep them safe, not only through the holidays but whenever they get behind the wheel.”
Nine people were killed on Tennessee roadways during the 2006 Christmas holiday. Alcohol was a factor in a third of those crashes.
“Drunk driving represents a total disregard for human life,” said TDOS Commissioner Dave Mitchell.
“The victims who die in impaired-driving crashes are not just numbers. They are our families, friends and neighbors, and their deaths are preventable. They are not accidents.”
Today also kicks off the National Lifesavers Weekend. During the three-day nationwide crackdown, in which THP is participating, a special emphasis is being placed on DUI enforcement.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in December 2006, 1,076 people were killed in crashes involving a driver with a Blood Alcohol Content level of .08 or higher.
In 2006, 439 fatalities occurred in Tennessee in crashes involving a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or higher, up nearly 10 percent in the state from 2005.
Last year, 16 people were killed during the New Year’s holiday period, resulting in a fatality rate of one death every four hours and 52 minutes. Eight of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-related crashes.
“The holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is one of the deadliest and most dangerous times of the year because of impaired drivers,” Col. Mike Walker said.
“If you want to have a drink, that’s your business. If you want to have a drink and drive, then it becomes our business.”
The official New Year’s holiday period will begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 28 and will end 11:59 p.m. Jan. 1.
Designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk are just two of several simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving. Other important tips include:
• Plan ahead: Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys;
• If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely;
• Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to the Tennessee Highway Patrol by dialing *THP;
• Wearing your seat belt or using protective gear on your motorcycle is your best defense against an impaired driver;
• And remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.