WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) on Dec. 7 joined the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and law enforcement to launch a national drunk driving crackdown to be held Dec. 16 through Jan. 3.
"From coast to coast, highway safety agencies will be conducting a period of increased law enforcement presence on the roadways to prevent the needless tragedies associated with drunk driving," said GHSA Executive Board Member John Saunders. "The federal and state governments are also purchasing paid advertising to deter drunk drivers and remind the public about the enhanced enforcement presence on the roadways."
Saunders noted that numerous states are using various new media approaches, such as Twitter, to share the safe driving message. In addition, Colorado is introducing a new iPhone application to help citizens estimate blood alcohol content (BAC) level, while the state of Washington is sharing its enforcement message in online gaming ads on XBox 360 Live.
A small sampling of state crackdown activities:
- California -- California has planned an extensive enforcement and public awareness effort. The state is kicking off its "The Year of the Checkpoint," with over 300 checkpoints involving over 200 police departments, multi-agency task forces and the California Highway Patrol during the three-week holiday mobilization alone. Saturation patrols and other special operations are also taking place throughout the state. Moreover, the state is coordinating a public-awareness campaign that spreads the message through dozens of billboards in major markets, radio and TV public service announcements, gas pump toppers, taxi toppers, and mall and airport kiosks. There are also partnerships with over 1,500 7-Eleven stores, independent mini-markets, and a 150-store supermarket chain providing employee messaging buttons, cooler clings, ice freezer wraps, floor graphics and check-out tip sheets. In addition, multiple state agencies and over 200 local law enforcement agencies are generating media through various outreach efforts.
- Colorado -- The Colorado State Patrol and 50 law enforcement agencies across the state are conducting impaired driving enforcement through Jan. 4. The Colorado DOT kicked off the crackdown with the debut of an iPhone application that estimates BAC levels. The "R-U-Buzzed" app can be downloaded free at Apple's App Store for those with iPhones or touch screen iPods. CDOT is also encouraging holiday partygoers to plan ahead if they will be drinking alcohol by visiting a special Web site, www.PlanAheadColorado.com. This site gives people tools and information to help them enjoy the holidays responsibly, including a list of bars and restaurants partnering with the state to distribute free cab vouchers, a list of hotels offering a discounted rate, overnight parking options, and public transportation alternatives such as free bus and light rail rides on New Year's Eve.
- Georgia -- Hundreds of Georgia traffic safety officers are busy planning for the campaign to keep families safe on the highways over the Christmas and New Year's holiday travel period. Activities include high-visibility DUI road checks and concentrated patrols during Georgia's Operation Zero Tolerance (OZT). The highway safety office is coupling its holiday OZT message with a public information campaign about the state's new Super Speeder Law to further improve the driving behavior of high-risk drivers. A large kickoff news conference will be held in Savannah followed by similar news conferences across the state.
- North Carolina -- The North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program is now conducting its holiday Booze It & Lose It campaign through Jan. 3. During this time, state and local law enforcement officers are participating in stepped up checkpoints and patrols. The "Tree of Life" ceremony and candlelight vigil were held Dec. 4 and served as the state's media event to kick off the mobilization. The "Tree of Life" is dedicated to the 1,453 lives lost in traffic crashes in 2008 on North Carolina roads, and the candlelight vigil remembers the 440 lives lost as a result of drinking and driving. The "Tree of Life" remains on display at the State Capitol through Jan. 4.
- Washington -- The Washington Traffic Safety Commission has launched a $800,000 campaign to support high-visibility DUI enforcement throughout the year, including during the holidays, over St. Patrick's Day, during a summer kick-off and around the 4th of July. The campaign includes saturation patrols conducted by more than 140 law enforcement agencies as well as a $400,000 media promotion. Paid media features TV and radio buys, illuminated posters, billboards, gas pump toppers, and advertising on dartboards in bars, as well as online gaming ads on XBox 360 Live. Earned media campaigns alerting drivers to the increased DUI enforcement are conducted at the county level by the Target Zero Traffic Safety Task Forces.