Major law enforcement effort seeks to save lives across Tennessee
Posted: Wednesday, September 2, 2009 11:12 am
The Tennessee Highway Patrol has announced state troopers will be out in full force during the Labor Day holiday period this weekend.
They will join thousands of other law enforcement and highway safety agencies throughout the state and nation as they take part in the “Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest” crackdown on impaired driving.
The official Labor Day holiday weekend begins Friday at 6 p.m. and ends Monday at 11:59 p.m.
“Driving with a BAC of .08 or higher is illegal in every state. Yet we continue to see a tragic number of people with debilitating injuries and deaths as a result of impaired driving. This careless disregard for human life must stop. To help ensure that happens, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is dedicated to arresting impaired drivers wherever and whenever we find them,” Tennessee Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell said.
Drunk driving is one of America’s deadliest crimes. In Tennessee in 2008, 327 people were killed in crashes where the driver or motorcyclist had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. That is down from 377 people killed in 2007 with a BAC of .08 or higher. Over the 2008 Labor Day holiday, 12 people were killed in 10 fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways, down from 17 people killed on Tennessee roadways in 2007.
Nationwide in 2008, nearly 12,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 or higher. The picture for motorcycle riders is particularly bleak. In fatal crashes in 2007, a higher percentage of motorcycle riders (27 percent) had a BAC of .08 or higher than any other type of motor vehicle driver.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol has hit the highways hard all summer long during the “100 Days of Summer Heat” enforcement campaign. Although the summer season comes to an unofficial close with the Labor Day holiday, the THP’s aggressive enforcement of drunk driving laws won’t end. The THP is teaming up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other local law enforcement agencies across the nation this weekend in the aggressive crackdown on impaired drivers as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s national campaign called “Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest.” The THP enforcement effort will include saturation patrols in high volume and high crash corridors and looking for aggressive and impaired drivers as well as safety belt violators to help prevent serious injury crashes.
“Make no mistake. Our message is simple. No matter what you drive — a passenger car, pickup, sport utility vehicle or motorcycle — if we catch you driving impaired, we will arrest you. No exceptions, no excuses,” THP Commander Col. Mike Walker said. “Tennessee state troopers will be out in force to get more drunk drivers off the road — and save lives that might otherwise be lost.”
While drunk driving has traditionally been viewed as mostly a male problem, data shows that an increasing number of females are being arrested and convicted for driving while impaired. Nationwide, arrests for women driving under the influence increased nearly 30 percent from 1998 to 2007, according to a recent study by (NHTSA). In Tennessee, roughly 18 percent of DUI convictions in 2008 were female and the percentage of female DUI arrests from 2002 to 2008 increased 4.3 percent from 18.5 percent in 2002 to 22.8 percent in 2008.
The national “Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest” impaired driving crackdown focuses on combing high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.
For more information, visit www.StopImpairedDriving.org.
Published in The Messenger 9.1.09