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Safety campaign underway

Officials of the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are conducting a statewide public safety campaign intended to make Arkansas highways and roads safer during the holiday season.

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is a nationwide initiative involving state, county and city law enforcement officers. It will be implemented during a three week period leading up to the New Year holiday.

“Arkansas motorists can expect an increase in saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints, anytime, anywhere,” said Col. Stan Witt, Director of the Arkansas State Police. “Drunk driving is a crime that will not be tolerated. State Troopers and other law enforcement officers will not be looking for excuses. If you’re caught driving impaired by alcohol or drugs, you will be arrested and taken to jail.”

A comparison of national crash data limited to the month of December in 2007 through 2011 indicates 4,169 people were killed in crashes that involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

“Impaired drivers make December one of the deadliest months to be on the road,” said Christopher Murphy, Regional Administrator NHTSA Region 7. “Each December hundreds of people die on the nation’s roadways because of impaired drivers – senseless deaths that could be avoided by one simple action – by not being under the influence of alcohol and/or illegal drugs. This December, don’t deprive someone of their chance to be home for the holidays next year. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, it’s not worth the risk.”

Arkansas has seen a 20 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths since 2010. Col. Witt attributed the decline to aggressive law enforcement activities along with safer vehicles and the actions of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Arkansas recorded 143 alcohol-related fatalities in 2012, down from 178 in 2010.

Arkansas is also below the national average in alcohol related fatalities. The national average is 31 percent of all highway deaths. Arkansas ranks at 26 percent.

“Although we have seen reductions in incidents of drunk driving, one death is too many. Countless numbers of people continue to suffer due to serious injuries or the emotional trauma associated with losing a friend or family member as a result of this serious crime,” Col. Witt said.

The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office recommends:

• Always plan ahead and whenever you expect to consume alcohol, designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.

• If you have been drinking, call a taxi, take the bus or call a sober friend or family member to get you to your destination safely.

• Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement.

• Always wear your safety belt or use protective gear while on a motorcycle. These items are your best defense against an impaired driver.

For more information on the 2013 holiday “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.

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