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Tennessee troopers target drivers who have had too much holiday ‘spirit’

Tennessee troopers target drivers who have had too much holiday ‘spirit’

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 9:27 pm
By: AP

 

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Safety and the Tennessee Highway Patrol announced Monday it will be stepping up its enforcement crackdown as part of National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. In an effort to find and remove impaired drivers from Tennessee roadways, state troopers are conducting saturation patrols and holding more than 100 driver license and sobriety checkpoints now through the New Year’s holiday extended weekend. In the surrounding area, saturation patrols will be conducted in Obion, Crockett, Dyer, Haywood, Fayette, Lake, Lauderdale, Shelby and Tipton counties, with a sobriety checkpoint planned on State Route 214 in Obion County on New Year’s Eve. “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.” The holiday season is one of the deadliest and most dangerous times of the year due to an increase in impaired driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin-istration, in December 2007, 992 people were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. “Impaired driving is a year-round problem, but it becomes especially serious during the holidays as more people are on the road traveling to and from parties and special gatherings,” commissioner Dave Mitchell said. “Whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk of killing yourself or someone else. Remember buzzed driving is drunk driving.” During the 2007 Christmas holiday, seven people were killed in traffic crashes on Tennessee roadways. This represents one death every 14 hours and 34 minutes. Alcohol was involved in nearly 30 percent of those crashes and four of the seven people killed were not wearing safety restraints. The 2008 Christmas holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday and runs through 11:59 p.m. Sunday. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is also currently participating in a national campaign, “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” This special enforcement effort runs through the end of the year. State troopers, including administrative personnel, will be working with law enforcement officers from hundreds of agencies across the country to get impaired drivers off the road. “No amount of good cheer will save you from the consequences of driving under the influence,” Col. Mike Walker said. “We will be out in force looking for impaired drivers and, if we catch you, we will arrest you. You will go to jail. No exceptions. No excuses.” Seventeen people lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes on Tennessee roadways last December. Overall traffic fatalities declined by 6 percent last year and that trend is continuing in 2008. As of Sunday, there have been 212 fewer fatal crashes than the same time period in 2007. “The fact that fatal crashes have dropped again this year is good news,” Walker said. “However, nearly a thousand people were killed on Tennessee roadways this year, and that means a thousand families didn’t have loved ones here for the holidays.” Last year, 15 people were killed during the New Year’s holiday period. Three of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-related crashes. The official New Year’s holiday period will begin 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and will end 11:59 p.m. Jan. 4, 2009. Published in The Messenger 12.23.08

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