Drunk driving deathsclaimed 10,322 lives last year, an increase of 4.6 percent from 2011. The arrival of the holiday season marks the start of one of the most dangerous time periods for U.S. drivers. Nationwide, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, as many as 900 people could lose their lives in drunk driving crashes.
Across the country, all 50 states are stepping up efforts to stop the carnage through an annual high visibility enforcement and awareness campaign to educate and protect the public.
To address this problem, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and its members, which include all 50 state highway safety offices, are joining with federal and state law enforcement officials to kick off the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign which runs from December 13 through January 1. The operation links high visibility enforcement with paid advertising and grassroots efforts to detect and prevent drunk driving.
States are aggressively pursuing a range of measures to combat the problem, including calling for tougher ignition interlock laws for all first-time offenders. Currently, 18 states have approved these get-tough sanctions for all first-time violators. To help in this effort, GHSA, along with the Centers for Disease Control and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is participating on a long-term study to assess state ignition interlock best practices. Availability of the findings is projected in early 2014.
GHSA also supports efforts to develop and test new in-car technology known as DADDS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety). The system employs sensors installed in a vehicle’s passenger compartment to measure blood-alcohol content by breath or touch to verify that a driver is below the legal .08 limit.
California is integrating enforcement and education tactics to remind the public about the dangers of impaired driving through the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
OTS is launching a new public awareness effort to promote designated driving called Designated Sober Driver VIP (DDVIP).
DDVIP – Highlights
- A smartphone app directs designated drivers to maps showing the location and descriptions of nearby bars that have agreed to offer free, non-alcoholic drinks and other incentives to designated sober drivers.
- A dedicated DDVIP Facebook page, along with Twitter, Instagram and other social and broadcast media, are being used to promote the program.
OTS is also urging motorists to “Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911!” through 600 digital freeway message signs. Additionally, 39 special multi-agency DUI Task Force Strike Teams, hundreds of local DUI saturation patrols and special warrant/probation sweeps targeting the “worst of the worst” repeat offenders will be deployed during the holidays.
Do you think this program will be effective? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!