Between highway accidents and bad weather, this Christmas holiday season resulted in many bad reports; final statistics on highway accidents are not available yet, and there’s New Year’s Eve to deal with. That is why we want to remind you once again:
NHTSA released 2011 state-by-state drunk driving statistics showing that in 2011, 9,878 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, including 395 during the second half of December alone. “The holiday season can be an especially dangerous time on our nation’s roadways due to drunk drivers – that’s why law enforcement officers will be out in full force,” said Secretary LaHood. “Our message is simple: drive sober or get pulled over.”
NHTSA’s new 2011 state-by-state drunk driving statistics show declines in 27 states, with four states leading the nation in declines in alcohol impaired driving fatalities. Texas had the greatest reduction with 57 fewer fatalities. New York, South Carolina and Tennessee followed, all with more than 30 fewer fatalities. Conversely, the three states with increases of 30 or more were Colorado, Florida and New Jersey. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have outlawed driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher.
“Thanks to the hard work of safety advocates and law enforcement officers across the country we’re seeing declines in drunk driving deaths in many parts of the country – but there is still more work to do,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Ultimately, personal responsibility is critical to improving roadway safety and we urge all motorists to be responsible this holiday season and never, ever drive drunk.”
This year’s winter holiday enforcement crackdown is being supported by more than $7 million in national TV and radio advertising featuring NHTSA’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. The ads, which first premiered last summer, feature “invisible” law enforcement officers observing alcohol-impaired individuals and then apprehending them when they attempt to drive their vehicles. The ads are designed to raise awareness and support law enforcement activities in every state in an effort to reduce drunk driving deaths.
“High visibility enforcement efforts, like the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ ad campaign, are a critical part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving,” said MADD National President Jan Withers. “MADD is proud to join with NHTSA and law enforcement in urging everyone to make a sober designated driver a part of their plans this holiday season.”
NHTSA also offers the following safety advice:
- Plan ahead. If you will be drinking, do not drive. Designate a sober driver or arrange another safe way home.
- If you are impaired, find another way home. Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use public transportation or contact your local sober ride program.
- Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.
In addition, Mother Nature unleashed her fury a few days before Christmas, and brought 34 tornadoes, formed out of severe thunderstorms, proving that tornado season can be “anytime.” A man died south of Houston, when strong winds downed a tree branch onto him. Crockett, Texas also experienced a tornado that destroyed and damaged several buildings. Powerful thunderstorms and tornadoes have left southeastern Texas, and are marching on to eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Southeast coast as of yesterday, Wednesday, December 26. These tornadoes injured at least 14 persons.
For those who still have to travel back home, or plan to travel over the New Year’s Holiday, please pay attention to weather forecasts, and have a travel safety kit and extra blankets in your vehicle, along with extra food.
Keep the cell phone charged, but don’t talk or text while driving; you need all your concentration focused on the weather and/or other drivers. If you plan to go to a New Year’s Eve Party, by all means, follow the above suggestions by NHTSA.
Drive Friendly – Sober – Safe! We can’t control the weather, but we can control the condition we are in when we get behind the wheel.
Source: NHTSA, AccuWeather