As the holiday season approaches, federal highway safety officials have launched a campaign designed to raise awareness about the risk of drunk driving, as well as drug-impaired driving, as part of a continuing effort to deter traveling motorists from driving under the influence following Christmas and New Years events.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched its Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over campaign this month on December 14, increasing law enforcement on the road and to warn motorists not to drive impaired, in an effort to reduce roadway deaths that tend to increase around the holidays.
According to NHTSA Deputy Administrator, Heidi R. King, this is the first year the agency has expanded the focus of the Drive Sober campaign to also include drug-impaired driving by adding the slogan If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.
Drunk driving fatalities account for roughly a quarter of all highway fatalities, with 10,874 people reportedly killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 where a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08 grams per deciliter.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that over the last five years, an average of 300 people were killed in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year’s, with alcohol related fatalities making up more than a quarter of all crash fatalities.
Although drunk driving accounts for many preventable roadway fatalities, officials are also warning drivers to not drive when under the influence of drugs. Over the last several years, states have shifted laws on marijuana, making it a legal in a number of states. Officials fear this will lead to an increased amount of impaired drivers on roadways.
The agency’s new co-slogan If You Feel Different, You Drive Different is aimed towards drug users who may think they feel fine to drive, because they are under the influence of a narcotic.
The NHTSA reiterated in its release that it is never acceptable to drive drunk or high, and to always designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride sharing service. Those with a friend or family member that is impaired by drugs or alcohol should take their keys and help them make a safe driving arrangement.
The drunk and drug driving campaigns are set to be run by the NHTSA from December 14, through December 31, warning motorists that increased police patrol will be added throughout this time frame, seeking impaired drivers.