NHTSA Launches Drunk Driving Crackdown Campaign Through Labor Day Weekend
Labor Day weekend is just around the corner, which many people consider to be the official end of the summer. This time of year, lots of people are spending their free time out and about, trying to fit in as much fun as the can before the end of the season. But if your idea of summertime fun involves alcohol, you might want to rethink your plans or make sure you have a designated driver because the NHTSA has launched their national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, warning motorists that police will be on high alert for drunk drivers from August 21 through September 7th.
The fact that the program runs through Labor Day weekend is no coincidence. It’s often a weekend where the number of fatal car accidents involving drunk drivers tends to increase sharply. During Labor Day weekend in 2013, half of all fatal car accidents that happened between the hours of 6:00 PM and 5:59 AM involved drunk drivers. The NHTSA considers a drunk driver to be a person driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
The number of deaths related to drunk driving have been cut in half since 1980 and national awareness campaigns, such as those run by MADD and the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” program, have played a very important role in bringing that number down. However, driving under the influence is still prevalent enough for it to be considered a public health issue. In 2013, 31% of all fatal car accidents involved impaired drivers. Out of all the people who died in car accidents involving drivers under the influence, 68% of them involved drivers who had a BAC of .15 or higher. It’s estimated that a person in the United States is injured in an accident involving a drunk driver every two minutes.
Car accidents involving drunk drivers can happen at any time on any day of the week, but incidences tend to increase during the nighttime hours and on weekends. In 2013, 35% of all fatal car crashes involved an impaired driver happened between 6:00 PM and 5:59 AM, compared to 9% between the hours of 6:00 AM and 5:59 PM. During the same year, 30% of fatal car accidents that happened on weekends involved drunk drivers and 15% happened during the week.
Drivers of all ages are capable of getting behind the wheel after a few too many drinks, but the ages of intoxicated drivers involved in fatal accidents tend to skew toward the young side. In 2013, 33% of drivers in fatal accidents were between the ages of 21 and 24 and 29% were between the ages of 25 and 34.
If you’re going to be drinking this Labor Day weekend, just be sure to do so safely and responsibly. Make sure you have a designated driver, have the number of a cab company programmed into your phone, or you can always try using Uber or Lyft. You can also download a free app from the NHTSA, called SaferRider, to help you get in touch with a cab company.