As Arkansans prepare for the approaching July 4th Independence Day holiday weekend, many families will include plans to travel across the state for cookouts and the customary summer festivities. However, experience and records tell us, some drivers and their passengers won’t make it to their destinations or return home. Drunk or impaired driving will be to blame.
Arkansas law enforcement officers will be participating in the statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” operation. The mission will be devoted to stopping drunk drivers before tragedy strikes. State police, along with city officers and county deputies across Arkansas will increase their patrols along the roads and highways with zero tolerance for those who drive impaired. Motorists should expect to see more sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols involving a unified police force working to keep the roadways safe.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving accounted for 29% (10,511) of the total motor vehicle traffic deaths during 2018. Additionally, drunk driving can be attributed to 40% (78) of the 193 traffic fatalities over the July 4th (2018) holiday period.
“Making the choice to drink and drive can be deadly. It’s irresponsible behavior, and we will be out in full force to put a stop to it,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “Make no mistake, if you’re caught drinking and driving, you will be arrested.”
If travelers plan to consume alcohol, the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office offers these reminders.
• Plan a safe way home before you leave. It’s never okay to drink and drive, even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage. Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely.
• If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to drive you home.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.
• If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help make other arrangements to get the person safely to their destination.
• Always buckle up. Your seat belt is the best defense against a drunk driver.
For more information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. Information about Arkansas’ ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign to eliminate preventable traffic deaths can be found at www.TZDarkansas.org.