The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Thursday announced a reminder that the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be out in force during the Christmas Holiday period to ensure travelers reach their destination safely. State troopers will focus their attention on impaired driving and seat belt usage during the holiday, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and ending at midnight on Tuesday.
“The focus of this effort is to save lives,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “I urge all Tennesseans and travelers passing through our state to obey the laws designed to keep them safe, through the holidays and whenever they get behind the wheel.”
During the 2011 Christmas holiday, nine people were killed on Tennessee roadways in six fatal crashes. Alcohol was involved in 66 percent of those crashes and four of the eight vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts. There was also one pedestrian killed during the 96-hour holiday period.
“Unfortunately, impaired driving is a year-round problem. It becomes especially serious during the holidays as more people are traveling to and from parties and special gatherings,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. “Our goal is remove offenders from the roadways and protect the motoring public. We want this joyous time to be safe for everyone, and all of our traffic safety enforcement efforts are created with that goal in mind,” he added.
The THP will utilize several enforcement tools, including saturation patrols, bar and tavern checks, and driver license and sobriety checkpoints to help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes over the holiday.
The THP said designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk are two of the several steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving. Other tips include:
Plan ahead: Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys;
If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely;
Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to the Tennessee Highway Patrol by dialing *THP;
Wearing your seat belt or using protective gear on your motorcycle is your best defense against an impaired driver;
Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.