• Dennis McCaslin

FSPD will be on the lookout for drunk drivers during Labor Day weekend

As Arkansans prepare to celebrate the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to remind everyone about the dangers of drinking and driving.

This Labor Day weekend, NHTSA will join with the Fort Smith Police Department to spread the word about impaired driving dangers and to work together to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives. The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs from August 21 through September 7, 2020.

During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of drunk driving, coupled with law enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.

Sadly, the statistics prove that we have a lot of work to do to put an end to drunk driving.

According to NHTSA, 10,511 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2018.

On average,1 0,000 people were killed each year from 2014 to 2018 — one person was killed in drunk- driving crashes every 50 minutes in 2018. That’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors.

This is why the Fort Smith Police Department is working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death.

“We want to see Labor Day celebrated, but celebrated safely,” said Lt. Stephen Krumm.

“We need commitment from our community members that they’ll keep the streets free of drunk drivers so that everyone can have a safe holiday. This is a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal and it takes lives. Help us protect the community and put an end to this senseless behavior.”

During the 2018 Labor Day holiday period (6 p.m. August 31 – 5:59 a.m. September 4), there were 439 crash fatalities nationwide. Forty-three percent of those fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking (.01+ BAC). More than one-third (38%) of the fatalities involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ BAC), and nearly one-fourth (24%) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC).

Age is a particularly risky factor: Among drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2018, of those drivers were drunk, with BACs of .08 or higher.

The Fort Smith Police Department and NHTSA are reminding citizens that there are many resources available to get them home safely.

“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior,” said Lt. Krumm. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party."

"That’s why, during the Labor Day holiday, we will make zero exceptions for drunk driving. There are just no excuses."

The Fort Smith Police Department recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

 Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one

alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a

ride service to get home safely.

 If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement immediately.

 Do you have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make

arrangements to get your friend home safely.

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