UPD wants students to drive safe

By Cora olson SDSUPD Guest Columnist

Bottom line, the SDSU Police Department cares about student’s safety. Throughout the year we will focus on many things that will help keep you safe, but for now we want to talk about impaired driving. If drunk driving were eliminated, more than 10,000 lives would be spared each year. The SDSU Police Department and Brookings area Law Enforcement are joining the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to join in the fight against drunk driving. By working together, increasing public awareness and enforcement, we can send the strong message that drunk driving will not be tolerated. 

This year’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” high-visibility enforcement campaign will run August 15 through September 1, covering the end of summer and the busy Labor Day holiday weekend.

In 2012, Labor Day weekend (6 p.m. Friday to 5:59 a.m. Tuesday) saw 147 drunk-driving fatalities. 

To put it in perspective, throughout the year someone is killed in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash every 51 minutes, on average. Over the Labor Day weekend, that statistic jumps to one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 34 minutes. And not surprisingly, nighttime is the worst, with almost half (46 percent) of all nighttime (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) traffic fatalities involving a drunk driver during the Labor Day holiday weekend.

In 2012, the families of 10,322 people were devastated by the tragic, preventable death of loved ones in alcohol-involved crashes. Young drivers (18-34) represent the largest segment of drunk drivers in the United States; among the people killed in drunk-driving crashes over the Labor Day holiday weekend, for example, almost half (45 percent) were between the ages of 18 and 34.  For those under the age of 21 it was illegal to consume alcohol, yet they did drink and, in addition, chose to drive after drinking. 

It also is important to note, that in the state of South Dakota this doesn’t only mean alcohol, it also includes driving while impaired by any drug that affects your ability to drive safe. NHTSA data indicates that highly visible enforcement campaigns can reduce impaired-driving fatalities by up to 20 percent. So please help us remind all drivers to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

For additional information and resources, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.