Choose to drive sober this Labor Day

Labor Day picnics and activities offer people many choices, from what to eat to what to do. One important choice that ITD encourages everyone to make is to not drive impaired.

ITD and law enforcement officers throughout Idaho are partnering in a high-visibility impaired driving education and enforcement campaign beginning Saturday (Aug. 25) and continuing through Sept. 8. The campaign is part of a nationwide Labor Day education and enforcement campaign targeting drunk driving.

By increasing patrols, officers expect to arrest more drunk drivers and make the holiday weekend safer for motorists. Overtime costs for the additional enforcement patrols are covered by a federal grant administered by ITD.

“Timing for the law enforcement effort is significant because the Labor Day holiday period has become notorious as a time when many drivers and motorcyclists make the deadly decision to drive or ride drunk,” said Kevin Bechen with ITD’s Office of Highway Safety.

“Impaired driving is no accident – nor is it a victimless crime,” Bechen said. “Alcohol, drugs and driving just don’t mix.”

Last year, 66 people died across the state as a result of impaired driving crashes.

In addition to the emotional toll inflicted on families and friends, impaired driving crashes statewide cost Idaho citizens more than $560 million annually. Costs are passed on to taxpayers through increased insurance premiums and charges for medical care, lost productivity, legal fees, property damage, travel delays and emergency services.

“Don’t become a highway statistic,” Bechen said. “Much of the tragedy from drunk driving can be prevented with a few simple precautions, starting with planning ahead.”

  • Planning to drink? Designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.
  • If you don’t know whether you are impaired, call a taxi, a sober friend or family member to get home safely.
  • Promptly report drunk drivers seen on roadways to law enforcement.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive impaired, take his or her keys and help make other arrangements.
  • Wear your seat belt. It is your best and only defense against a drunk driver.

Published 8-24-2012