State departments of transportation from across the country are helping State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) and law enforcement agencies step up efforts to reduce drunk and drug-impaired driving ahead of and during the Labor Day holiday.
[Above photo by the Colorado State Patrol]
To address this persistent and growing highway safety problem, state DOTs, SHSOs, plus state and local law enforcement agencies are participating in the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” outreach and enforcement campaign.
The Governors Highway Safety Association noted that the Labor Day holiday is an especially deadly time for impaired driving, with the risks greater than normal in 2021 as traffic volumes rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people die each year in crashes involving drunk drivers, and the impacts on younger people are even more pronounced. During the 2019 Labor Day holiday, nearly half (46 percent) of the drivers aged 18 to 34 killed in motor vehicle crashes had a Blood Alcohol Content or BAC of 0.08 or higher.
While the impaired driving problem is not new, NHTSA recently released evidence pointing to increases in drunk, drugged, and multi-substance driving during the pandemic.
“Labor Day weekend is a great time to get together and celebrate the unofficial end of summer,” said Jonathan Adkins, GHSA’s executive director, in a statement.
“As we’ve done throughout the pandemic, Americans need to keep safety top of mind when behind the wheel,” he added. “Every single death and injury in an impaired driving crash is preventable. Enjoy the waning days of summer – but do it safely.”
Some of the state DOTs participating in this nationwide effort include:
- The Colorado Department of Transportation, which is joining forces with the Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies for a DUI campaign enforcement campaign from August 18 to September 6. The agency said in a statement state and local law enforcement agencies with additional patrols stationed across Colorado to remove impaired drivers from the roads ahead of and during the Labor Day holiday weekend. The Colorado DOT noted that the state has suffered 133 traffic fatalities involving a suspected impaired driver so far in 2021, representing 36 percent of all traffic fatalities to this point this year.
- The Missouri Department of Transportation, which is working with state and local law enforcement on a DUI enforcement campaign from August 20 through Labor Day. That agency said in a statement that, in 2020, some 217 people died and 713 suffered serious injuries in Missouri crashes resulting from impaired driving. During the 2020 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, the Missouri DOT said law enforcement officers made 213 DWI arrests, 45 DUI drug arrests, and 12 arrests for minors in possession.
- The Wisconsin Department of Transportation, which is joining forces with the Wisconsin State Patrol to conduct a statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign from August 18 through Labor Day. The Wisconsin DOT said that alcohol contributed to more than a quarter of all statewide traffic fatalities in 2020, with 2,250 drug-related crashes that caused 80 deaths that year as well – up from 1,749 crashes and 59 deaths in 2019. “What makes these deaths so tragic is that they are preventable,” said Craig Thompson, secretary of transportation-designee, in a statement. “They result from the terrible decision to get behind the wheel while impaired. We hope the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign will make drivers think twice before they make a mistake that costs someone their life.”