As we draw nearer to the end of 2013, law enforcement authorities are stepping up their efforts to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is part of holiday celebrations. The same can be said for public awareness about the dangers of impaired driving.
The New York State Thruway Authority and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have kicked off their annual "red ribbon" campaign against drunken driving. 65,000 red ribbons are being handed out to motorists along the Thruway.
The red ribbon campaign is Mothers Against Drunk Driving's longest running public awareness project. The foot-long red ribbons are meant to be displayed on vehicles as a reminder of the danger of driving while impaired and to encourage people to drive sober, safely and buckled up.
The handout is part of the New York State Thruway Authority annual campaign to prevent drunk driving. The event honors those who were killed or injured at the hands of drunk drivers, and the ribbons are meant to be displayed by drivers to raise public awareness of the danger of impaired driving.
State Police Troop K information Officer Trooper Melissa McMorris: "If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving. Have a designated sober driver. Call a taxi. Call a friend. Call a family member. Public transportation is available to anybody. Just be responsible. if you know you're going to be drinking, plan ahead. And if you know somebody else who's drinking, don't let them drive."
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says his officers will be out in full force this weekend and on New Year's Eve, keeping the roadways safe. "We really hope that the moning after, New Year's morning, we can wake up and go 'hey lookit, again, we had no fatalities and we didn't have any DWI arrests.' That would be a home run for us! With us, the message is 'Have a plan, have a designated driver.' We partnered this year with Martin, Harding and Mazotti. It's 1-800-LAW-1010 just as their jingle says, and they will have dispatchers there that will send you a cab. It's something that people just need to be cognizant of. And make sure you don't make a bad choice or a bad decision and get behind the wheel of a car after you've had a few drinks."
Apple adds if you're just planning to sip on a glass of wine, have a plan to get home safely. Troop K commander Major Robin Benziger notes that since the holiday season is traditionally marked by increased travel and alcohol consumption, New York State Police have chosen to participate in a national program called, “Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest.” Again, Trooper McMorris: "If you do see a driver that you feel is impaired and you feel that they could cause an accident, contact 911 immediately. They will contact the closest available police unit, so we can get somebody out there. I mean it could save a life."
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, 32,367 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes across the nation in 2011, and 31 percent (9,878) of those fatalities occurred in drunk-driving-related crashes.