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Claudann Jones

During the Labor Day holiday, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will partner with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get drunken drivers off the roads and help save lives.

The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” begins Wednesday and runs through Sept. 2. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunken driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunken driving on U.S. roadways.

Unfortunately, statistics prove there is still a lot of work to do to put an end to drunken driving. According to the NHTSA, 10,874 people were killed in drunken-driving crashes in 2017. On average, 10,000 people were killed each year from 2013 to 2017 — one person was killed in drunken-driving crashes every 48 minutes in 2017.

During the 2017 Labor Day holiday period — 6 p.m. Sept. 1 to 5:59 a.m. Sept. 5 — there were 376 vehicle crash fatalities nationwide. Forty-four percent of those fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking (drivers with a blood-alcohol content of 0.01 or more).

More than one-third (36 percent) of the fatalities involved drivers who were drunk (BAC of 0.08 or more), and more than one-fourth (26 percent) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (0.15 or more). 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 2017, 42 percent of those drivers were drunk, with BACs of 0.08 or higher.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Watch UR BAC program recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

• Remember that it is never OK to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver, plan to use public transportation or use a ride-sharing service to get home safely.

• Use your community’s sober ride program such as Uber.

• If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement agencies.

• Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely.

For more information about the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit: www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/drunk-driving/national-mobilization/peak-enforcement-kit.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Watch UR BAC program is funded by TxDOT and is provided at no charge to promote alcohol awareness, the dangers of impaired driving and friends watching out for friends.

For more information, contact Claudann Jones, Smith County Extension agent for family and community health, at 903-590-2980 or email at cmjones@ag.tamu.edu. Like our Facebook page: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Smith County.

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