2013-06-27 / Front Page

Operation Zero Tolerance will get drunk drivers off the road

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) has launched its Summer Zero Tolerance Campaign to get drunk drivers off the roads and inside a jail cell.

The Fourth of July remains one of the most dangerous holidays on Georgia roads, prompting the GOHS to once again join a national impaired driving enforcement effort to cut down on the number of DUI offenders.

Alcohol-impaired crashes still account for 23 percent of all traffic fatalities in Georgia, and over the past two years, the state has averaged 88 alcohol-impaired crashes for the July 3-5 travel period.

To reverse this trend, the GOHS will partner with law enforcement agencies across the state to implement the Summer Zero Tolerance Campaign, warning drivers that if they are over the limit, they will be placed under arrest.

Getting drunk drivers off the road is even more important at this point in 2013, because crash data indicates Georgia is ahead of its total traffic fatalities compared to this time last year. As of June 20, 2012, the state had experienced 499 fatalities – the number is currently at 520 for the year.

“While a four-percent increase may not seem like a lot to some people, that’s an additional 23 people, who won’t be able to celebrate our nation’s independence this year,” said GOHS Director Harris Blackwood.

“We’re launching Operation Zero Tolerance to not only rid the roads of drunk drivers but to try and keep our traffic fatalities as low as possible. We join our partners in all 50 states to warn people to drive sober or get pulled over.”

The Operation Zero Tolerance Campaign will run through Sunday, July 7.

Impaired driving crashes, occurring around July 4, are not just a problem in Georgia. Nationwide, the percentage of fatalities from impaired driving spike around Independence Day.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 251 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes during the July 4 holiday in 2011. Of those fatalities, 38 percent involved at least one impaired driver.

Additional NHTSA data shows that during the July 4 holiday period from 2007 to 2011, 780 people lost their lives in crashes involving drunk drivers. These fatalities accounted for 40 percent of all highway deaths over the same five-year period.

Moreover, this summer, Georgia has a new partner in combating drunk drivers. Because the state’s new boating-under-the-influence law went into effect May 15, 2013 marks the first summer where .08 will be the legal blood alcohol limit for both boaters and drivers.

The GOHS will be partnering with the Department of Natural Resources to enforce Georgia’s zero tolerance DUI policy on both land and water.

“Here in Georgia, drunk driving will not be tolerated on the road or on the lake,” said Director Blackwood. “Getting drunk boaters off the water helps keep drunk drivers off of the road. Nobody should celebrate our nation’s independence with a night jail because they didn’t find a sober driver.”

According to State Farm Insurance, law enforcement officials say there are several signs associated with drunk driving: l Making wide turns. l Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line. l Almost striking an object or vehicle. l Driving on the wrong side of the road. l Driving at a very slow speed. l Stopping without cause. l Braking erratically. l Responding slowly to traffic signals. l Turning abruptly or illegally. l Driving after dark with the headlights off.

Keeping these things in mind can help drivers avoid dangerous situations.

If a motorist spots what he thinks is an impaired driver, he should keep a safe distance and call 911. He should not attempt to stop the vehicle.

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