During the Labor Day holiday, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get drunken drivers off the roads and help save lives.

The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, started Aug. 14 and continues through Sept. 2. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunken driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and more officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunken driving on U.S. roadways.

Unfortunately, statistics prove there is still a lot of work to do to put an end to drunken driving. According to the NHTSA, 10,874 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2017. On average, 10,000 people were killed each year from 2013 to 2017 — one person was killed in drunken-driving crashes every 48 minutes in 2017. That’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors.

This is why Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is working with NHTSA to remind drivers drunken driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death.

During the 2017 Labor Day holiday period — from 6 p.m. Sept. 1 until 5:59 a.m., Sept. 5 — there were 376 vehicle crash fatalities nationwide. Forty-four percent of those fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking (.01 or higher blood-alcohol content). More than one-third, 36 percent, of the fatalities involved drivers who were legally drunk, registering a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. Twenty-six percent involved drivers who registered at least .15, almost twice the legal limit.

Age is a particularly risky factor. Among drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2017, 42 percent of those drivers were legally drunk.

Labor Day should be a time for friends and family to come together to enjoy the last days of summer. We need commitment from our community members that they’ll keep the streets free of drunken drivers so everyone can have a safe holiday. This is a campaign to get the message out that drunken driving is illegal and it takes lives. Help us put an end to this senseless behavior.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and NHTSA are working together to provide people with resources and information to get them home safely. Remember: Drunken driving is not acceptable behavior. It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. There are just no excuses.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Watch UR BAC program recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

Remember it is never OK to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation, or use a ride-sharing service to get home safely.

Use your community’s sober ride program, such as Uber or Lyft.

If you see a possible drunken driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.

Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely.

Courtney Latour is the extension agent for Family and Consumer Science with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Brazoria County. Contact her at 979-864-1558 or clatour@ag.tamu.edu.

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