December is National Impaired Driving Awareness Month. This campaign is a nationwide effort to reduce crash risks and raise awareness about impaired driving during the critical holiday driving season. This year New Jersey is taking serious action. Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced the launch of the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Year-End Holiday Campaign. Grant funding from the Division will be used to mobilize law enforcement agencies throughout the state to conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints to take alcohol or drug-impaired drivers off our roadways. To assist with New Jersey’s enforcement efforts, the Division has awarded over $600,00 in grants to 98 police agencies across the state to fund enhanced patrols and high-visibility sobriety checkpoints during the month of December.
“There is never an excuse for driving impaired. Thanks to the enhanced enforcement seen during the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, drivers that choose to break the law and put others at risk will face serious legal consequences,” said Tomi-Anne Raue, Interim Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “Too many families have lost loved ones to impaired drivers during the busy holiday season. This campaign not only increases awareness of the risk of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but it also provides law enforcement agencies throughout the State with funding to help everyone make it home for the holidays – safely.”
The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2019 during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, 210 lives were lost due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes. That’s 210 people in one week who didn’t make it home because either they or someone with whom they came in contact chose to use alcohol and then get behind the wheel.
These deaths were preventable. That’s why for more than 40 years, the country has observed National Impaired Driving Prevention Month in December to raise awareness that impaired driving can be deadly and to put strategies in place for all of us to make it home safely.
Many people are getting more comfortable gathering this year as we begin to regain pre-pandemic socialization. This holiday season we have already seen an influx of holiday parties, events, and gatherings. In each instance, alcohol and other substances may not necessarily be the center of the fun but are a common denominator. While this campaign addresses driving under the influence of just alcohol, it’s important to note that many substances can impair driving, including marijuana, opioids, methamphetamines, or even prescribed or over-the-counter medications.
Prevention is possible. Having a plan can save a life. If you’re celebrating, remember to plan ahead with a sober driver. If you are the designated driver, take this responsibility seriously. Avoid distractions while driving and be on high alert. Remember, just because you are sober does not mean other drivers on the road are sober. Make sure you and all the passengers are wearing seat belts, this is your best defense against impaired drivers.
This holiday season, each of us has the power to prevent a tragedy. It is important to ensure that those we know and care about are getting to and from their celebrations as safely as possible.
Wishing safe travels to you and your loved ones this holiday season. From all of us at Greater Mercer TMA have a happy and safe holiday.