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Holiday Drunk Driving Accidents Lead U.S. DOT To Urge “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”

Federal highway traffic safety officials have launched their annual advertising campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” which is designed to encourage travelers throughout the holiday season to not drink and drive. 

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched the drunk driving awareness campaign on December 13, to raise public awareness of the danger of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and asking travelers to plan ahead if they anticipate drinking.

In support of the NHTSA’s campaign, the agency released a new advertisement called “No Big Deal”, which vividly illustrates the destruction caused by a drunk driver, which is set to air nationwide from December 13, through December 31, 2017.

The No Big Deal commercial opens to a nighttime scene of a police officer at the scene of a crash, depicting a haze of smoke emanating from a burning car, paramedics tending to an injured person in an ambulance, and an intoxicated individual sitting in the back of a police cruiser. To relay the agency’s message, a voiceover the commercial states “You knew the risks when you decided to drive drunk. But you didn’t think about that. People could get hurt or killed. But you didn’t think about that. People could get hurt or killed. You can get arrested. But one thing’s for sure. You were wrong when you said it was no big deal.”

In addition to the nationwide commercial run, the NHTSA has also released a 360-degree virtual reality web experience, which takes viewers into the scene of a drunk driving crash, warning of the destruction and possibilities of killing someone, or yourself.

U.S. Transportation Secretary, Elaine L. Chao, stated in the NHTSA press release that December is one of the busiest travel months of the year and the agency is urging everyone to drive sober and plan a safe ride home before drinking at holiday celebrations and gatherings.

According to the NHTSA crash data, over the last five years an average of 300 people died in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. In 2016 alone, 781 people were killed in drunk driving related crashes in the month of December.

Alcohol impaired driving accidents account for nearly a quarter of the annual traffic fatalities each year. The NHTSA recorded that an estimated 37,461 people died in all traffic crashes in the United States in 2016, while 10,497 of those fatal crashes involved a driver with an illegal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater.

The campaign stresses the importance for individuals to drive responsibly and to avoid consuming alcoholic beverages before taking to the roadways. Individuals are being encouraged to plan a safe ride home and designating a sober driver, or using the NHTSA’s SaferRide app to call a taxi or a friend to be picked up.

NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King, added that this holiday season law enforcement partners across the country will be on patrol in larger forces looking for impaired driving behaviors.

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