Don’t Forget “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving”
Nashville, TN — The Tennessee Highway Patrol announced today that State Troopers will be out in full force during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, cracking down on drunk drivers with an aggressive Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest enforcement blitz. To ensure motorists are obeying the law, the THP will conduct sobriety and driver license checkpoints across the state in an effort to reduce fatalities and serious injury crashes. The 2010 July 4th, 78-hour Holiday period begins at 6:00pm, Thursday, July 1st, and will end at 11:59pm, Sunday, July 4th.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve only had one drink; it’s not worth the risk,” said Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell. “Buzzed driving is drunk driving. No matter your age; if you plan on drinking, you’d better find a safe and sober ride home or your chances of arrest are high.”
During the 2009 July 4th holiday weekend, 16 people died in 15 crashes on Tennessee roadways. That’s a fatality rate of one death every four hours and 53 minutes. Five of the 10 people killed last year were vehicle occupants and were not wearing seatbelts. Five motorcyclists also died during last year’s July 4th holiday weekend. Two of the deaths, or 12.5 percent, occurred in alcohol-related crashes.
Driving impaired is simply not worth the risk. The consequences of drinking and driving are serious and real. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving impaired can be significant. Violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver’s license, higher insurance rates and dozens of other unanticipated expenses.
“Too many people still fail to understand the severity or the consequences behind driving impaired. It is not an accident, nor is it a victimless crime,” stressed THP Colonel Mike Walker. “It’s vitally important that we bring this tragic situation to an end.”
In 2008, national statistics indicate 32 percent of all drivers involved in traffic-related crashes during the July 4th holiday period had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, the legal limit in all states.
Drunk driving is one of America’s deadliest problems. Nationwide, in 2008, 37,261 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Out of that number, 11,733 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
In Tennessee in 2009, 989 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. There were 136 people who were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle rider with a BAC of .08 or higher.
Alcohol plays a big role in motorcycle fatalities too. Forty-three percent of the 2,291 motorcycle riders who were killed in single-vehicle crashes nationwide in 2008 had BAC levels of .08 or higher, as well as 64 percent of nighttime weekend fatalities. In fatal crashes for 2008, a higher percent of motorcycle riders had BAC levels of .08 or higher than any other type of vehicle driver. Fourteen of the 120 motorcycle riders who were killed in Tennessee in 2009 had BAC levels of .08 or higher.
“It’s obvious to recognize someone who is not fit to drive home safely,” said Colonel Walker. “You don’t have to be ‘falling down drunk’ to be a threat to yourself or others on the road.”
Don’t let this Fourth of July blow up in your face. Remember, Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. Designate a sober driver before the parties begin.
In 2010, preliminary statistics indicate 477 people have died on Tennessee roadways, an increase of 6 deaths compared to 471 fatalities at this same time in 2009. A list of scheduled sobriety and driver license checkpoints for the July 4th Holiday period are included in this release. Statistical data for 2009 is attached.
For more information, please visit www.StopImpairedDriving.org
The Tennessee Department of Safety’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public. The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.