As part of National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, Chief Robert Kalamaras and the Fairfield Police Department wish to remind residents of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
December is recognized as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month each year in an effort to reduce crashes and tragedies that occur as a direct result of impaired driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,142 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2019, accounting for nearly one-third of traffic crash fatalities. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2015 to 2019 — one person was killed in a drunk-driving crash every 52 minutes in 2019.
The month of December typically sees a drastic increase in the number of impaired driving fatalities. In December 2019, 837 people were killed in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver. During the Christmas 2019 and New Year’s Day 2020 holiday periods, there were more drunk-driving-related fatalities (210) than during any other holiday period that year.
Additionally, the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that in 2018 a total of 12.6 million people drove under the influence of illicit drugs. According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated 44% of drivers in fatal vehicle crashes tested positive for drugs.
The Fairfield Police Department reminds residents that these fatalities are preventable, and drivers must remember that driving while impaired by any substance — alcohol or other drugs — is dangerous, deadly and illegal behavior.
Residents should keep the following safety tips from the NHTSA in mind to prevent crashes and tragedies as a result of impaired driving:
- Never drive if you have been drinking or are under the influence of drugs.
- Never get into a vehicle with a driver who is drunk or high. Designate a sober driver beforehand or plan to use public transportation or a ride share service to get home safely.
- Watch out for your family and friends, and if one of them is impaired and planning to drive, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get home safely.
- Be a defensive driver. Remain vigilant while driving and watch out for other drivers who may be under the influence. If you see a driver who may be impaired, find a place to safely pull over and call 911.
- Nighttime is a particularly dangerous time to be on the roads. The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 was 3.3 times higher at night than during the day, and drivers should be extra aware of other drivers who may be under the influence in the evening and nighttime hours.
For additional driving and road safety tips from the NHTSA, click here.
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
The NHTSA annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over holiday campaign will run this year from Dec. 15, 2021 through Jan. 1, 2022. As part of the campaign, law enforcement agencies both locally and nationally will work together to get drunk drivers off the roads.
For more information about the 2021 Holiday Season Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, click here.
The Cost of Drunk Driving
Driving while impaired is not only extremely reckless and dangerous to yourself and those around you, there are also significant financial and other implications. These include:
- On average, a DUI can set you back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, and more.
- The financial impact from impaired-driving crashes is devastating. Based on 2010 numbers (the most recent year for which cost data is available), impaired-driving crashes cost the United States $44 billion annually.
- If you’re caught drinking and driving, you can face jail time.
- Drinking and driving can cause you to lose your driver’s license and your vehicle. This could inhibit you from getting to work, resulting in lost wages and even job loss.
The Fairfield Police Department wishes all residents a happy and safe holiday season!