On Labor Day weekend, families and friends will be celebrating the end of the summer. Sadly, this festive time has also become a dangerous time for America's roads, as many drunk drivers get behind the wheel after celebrating. For this reason, the Silver Lake and Cuyahoga Falls police departments are partnering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to stop drunk drivers and help save lives. The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs Aug. 19 through Sept. 5. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messaging about the dangers of driving drunk, coupled with sobriety checkpoints and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on the nation's roads.
According to NHTSA, on average, more than 10,000 people died each year (2010 to 2014) in drunk-driving crashes. During the 2014 Labor Day holiday weekend (6 p.m. Aug. 29 to 5:59 a.m. Sept. 2), 40 percent of the fatalities in traffic crashes involved drunk drivers, which was the highest percentage over the years from 2010 to 2014.°And nighttime proves to be the most dangerous time to be out on the roads: During the 2014 Labor Day holiday period, 83 percent of drunk-driving crash fatalities occurred between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. - as compared to half of all drunk-driving crash fatalities throughout the rest of that year.
Additionally, 40 percent of crash fatalities on Labor Day weekend in 2014 involved drunk drivers (with blood alcohol concentrations [BACs] of .08 or higher), amounting to 162 lives lost. More than a quarter (28 percent) of the crash fatalities that occurred on Labor Day weekend involved drivers with BACs of .15 or higher--almost twice the illegal limit.
"Drunk driving is a massive problem in the United States, with more than 10,000 people dying annually," said Silver Lake Police Detective Jamie Norris, adding drivers need to pay attention to their own driving, and also to others on the road. "If you think you see a drunk driver, call us and let us know," he said.
Norris said of the 9,967 people who were killed in impaired-driving crashes in 2014, 64 percent were the drunk drivers themselves. Those 6,391 drunk drivers thought they would make it to their destinations, but they didn't. In every state, for every person, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, said Norris.
Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Jack Davis said driver safety is a top priority. "We remain committed to providing a safe environment for our commuters," Davis said. "We will have extra patrol out during this time as part of the grant we received from the Ohio Department of Public Safety to help spot and arrest impaired drivers."
Davis said Cuyahoga Falls officers "strive at all times to remove these dangerous drivers from our streets."
During the enforcement period, there will be a special emphasis on drunk-driving enforcement. Local drivers should expect to see more patrol vehicles, sobriety checkpoints, and increased messaging about the dangers of drunk driving.