VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) --Law enforcement agencies throughout the Central Valley are raising awareness to keep our roadways safe this holiday weekend.
It's hard to believe laborday weekend is just around the corner. This weekend plenty of people will be celebrating over the 3 day weekend. Sadly it's become one of the most dangerous times on the roadways.
Due to the increase in drunk-driving-related fatalities around the holidays, law enforcement agencies across the country will be ramping up enforcement efforts as part of a national crackdown on drunk driving. It's called the "Avoid the 18" campaign and is going on throughout out Fresno, Madera, Merced, Kings and Tulare counties.
The task force has been out in full force since August 19th. Throughout the 3 week campaign, officers will be looking for drunk drivers and holding DUI check points throughout the area. Officers say if you're drinking and driving you will be arrested. The cost of a DUI can total more than $10 thousand, plus the loss of your license and jail time.
The AVOID the 18 will deploy DUI/Drivers License checkpoints and DUI Saturation Patrols throughout the enforcement period to stop and arrest alcohol and drug impaired drivers during the end of summer 18 day DUI campaign. Police, Sheriff and the California Highway Patrol's routine patrols will be on looking for the tale-tell sign of drunk driving in order to stop and arrest impaired drivers.
According to NHSTA, on average, over 10,000 people died each year (2010 to 2014) in drunk-driving crashes nationwide while California recorded 882 deaths. During the 2014 Labor Day holiday weekend (6 p.m. August 29 - 5:59 a.m. September 2), 40 percent of the fatalities in traffic crashes involved drunk drivers, which was the highest percentage over the five years 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 nationwide and 20 in California. And we're not just talking about a little bit of alcohol, either. More than a quarter (28%) of the crash fatalities that occurred on Labor Day weekend involved drivers with BACs of .15 or higher-almost twice the illegal limit.
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.
The AVOID the 18 DUI Coalition reminders everyone:
Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
Drivers are encouraged to download the Designated Driver VIP, or "DDVIP," the feature-packed app even has a tab for the non-DD to call Uber, Lyft or Curb.
DRUGS, MEDICATION & ALCOHOL = CRASHES: Recent statistics reveal that 30 percent of drivers in fatal crashes had one or more drugs in their systems. A study of active drivers showed more tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.
If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take your friend's keys and help your friend make other arrangements to get to where he or she is going safely
As the summer winds to an end, remember that there's no excuse for drunk or impaired driving. If you choose to break the law, police sheriff and CHP official will see you before you see them. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
AVOID the 18 DUI Task Force funding is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety.