Lafayette State Police Post Wednesday announced that officers will be cracking down on dangerous and impaired driving in March, as part of a statewide enforcement campaign. From February 26 through March 21, 2021, officers will be conducting high-visibility patrols showing zero tolerance for those driving aggressively, over the speed limit, or under the influence.
The overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) through an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) grant.
“Dangerous and impaired driving continues to be a problem especially around high-risk events like St. Patrick’s Day and the NCAA Tournament,” said Lieutenant Tom McKee, District Commander of the Lafayette State Police Post. “However you celebrate this year, do so responsibly. Slow down, buckle up, and if you drink, don’t drive. It’s that simple.”
On average, drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year in the U.S., according to NHTSA. Although 2020 was a unique year due to the pandemic, preliminary data from the federal safety agency shows that while miles traveled had decreased by about 14.5 percent in the first nine months, overall traffic fatalities increased by 4.6 percent nationwide.
In addition, a separate report released from NHTSA revealed that more road users engaged in risky behaviors in 2020 such as speeding or driving under the influence, and that fewer motorists wore seat belts.
Despite having fewer drivers on the road in Indiana, 2020 was the third highest year for traffic fatalities (850) in the past decade, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
“We’re seeing an uptick in dangerous driving during the pandemic, and it’s very concerning,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “That’s why we’re pulling out all the stops this March to reverse that trend and encourage safe driving behavior. Preventing loss of life is our top priority.”
Dangerous driving also includes such factors as speeding, tailgating, and disregarding a traffic signal – all of which are against the law in Indiana. Additionally, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Drivers under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to 1 year.
To avoid the potential for legal fees and criminal charges, the department recommends following these simple steps:
- Slow down and follow all posted speed limits.
- Do not tailgate or drive aggressively.
- Put down the phone and avoid distracted driving.
- Buckle up – every trip, every time.
- Never drive impaired. If you plan on drinking, plan for a safe, sober ride home.
- If you are hosting a party, always offer alcohol-free beverages and make sure all of your guests leave with a sober driver or allow them to spend the night.
- Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Take the keys and never let a friend leave your sight if you think that they are about to drive while impaired.