Drunk driving campaign underway in Searcy County
This July 4th, as we celebrate America's independence, the Searcy County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) want to remind drivers that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
Unfortunately, too many people think that driving after a few drinks is acceptable. The numbers say otherwise: In 2020, more than 200 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes over the 4th of July holiday period. That's over 200 people who could have made it home if everyone had planned ahead for a sober ride. If you celebrate Independence Day with alcohol and decide to get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you aren't just putting yourself in danger; you put everyone on the road at risk. Plan ahead for a safe and sober ride every time you drink. Stay safe for the people in your life - loved ones, parents or children, your buddies. Drive sober to protect them and to protect yourself.
According to NHTSA, 11,654 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes that involved an alcohol-impaired driver in 2020. That same year, 493 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the July 4th holiday period (6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m. July 6). Forty-one percent (201) of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. With many Fourth of July festivities wrapping up in the evening or late at night, more cars will be on the roads at night. Over the 2020 July 4th holiday period, of the 201 people who died in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle traffic crashes, 85% of the fatalities occurred in nighttime crashes (6 p.m.-5:59 a.m.).
"Everyone deserves to have a safe, enjoyable Fourth of July," said Searcy County Sheriff Kenny Cassell. "We're partnering with NHTSA to share the reminder that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. It is never okay to drink and drive - even after just a few drinks. There are so many options for a sober ride these days. So, plan ahead - if you'll be drinking this Fourth of July, or any other day, arrange for a sober ride."
Searcy County Chief Deputy Dewayne Pierce added that the 4th of July holiday period is consistently one of the deadliest times of year on the nation's roads. From 2016 to 2020, there were 901 people killed in drunk-driving crashes over the 4th of July holiday period. Thirty-nine percent (542) of the drivers killed were alcohol-impaired (with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher), and more than half (51%) were between the ages of 21-34. During the 2020 July 4th holiday period, 60% of those who died in alcohol-impaired crashes were in a crash involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC at or above .15. That's almost twice the legal limit in most states.
Cassell and Pierce ask all Searcy County residents to plan ahead. "This Fourth of July, the Searcy County Sheriff's Department and NHTSA urge drivers to designate a sober driver before heading out for the evening. If you plan on drinking, plan how you will get around without driving. If you wait until after you've been drinking to make this decision, you're already too impaired to make the right choices," Pierce said.
Remember these tips for a safe Independence Day weekend:
Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you've had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
If available, use your community's sober ride program.
If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Searcy County Sheriff's Office at 870-448-2340.
See a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
This Fourth of July and every day, drive only if you're 100% sober, because Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. For more information on impaired driving, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.