Local authorities are once again joining in a nationwide effort to reduce the number of deadly crashes over the “last party weekend of the summer”.
Labor Day is one of the deadliest weekends of the year for Oklahomans, especially those between the ages of 21 and 34. Impaired drivers, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety office cause about 41 percent of deaths during the holiday weekend.
“We will be relying on moving patrols, paying special attention to all traffic movements and seat belts,” said Miami Police Chief Gary Anderson. “This was a success on Memorial Day with good results and we will do the same again.”
Ottawa County Undersheriff Bob Ernst said his department's tactic will be similar to the city officers.
“We don't have any scheduled checkpoints for the holiday,” Ernst said. “It hasn't proven helpful in the past as far as keeping drunk drivers off the roads.”
During the Memorial Day “Click It or Tick It” mobilization effort, Oklahoma law enforcement officials cited 15,766 drivers with seat belt violations; arrested 707 drivers for driving under the influence; issued 20,697 citations for speeding; made 267 felony arrests and 467 drug arrests.
In 2006, 13,500 people were killed in U.S. highway crashes involving a driver under the influence of alcohol - 306 of the fatalities were children under the age of 15.
“You are considered under the influence if you have a blood alcohol content of .08 or
higher - impaired is .06 -.079,” Anderson said. “If you have a BAC above .15 you are considered aggravated. This law was passed back in 2006 it provides for not less than one year supervision and periodic testing at the defendant's expense, 480 hours of community service, and an ignition interlock device for a minimum of thirty days and will still face the criminal provisions of the statutes.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 41 percent of drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 or above involved in fatal crashes last year was highest among motorcycle riders.
“I expect to see those numbers increase,” said Anderson. “With the high gas prices, more people are riding motorcycles this year.”
Authorities warn travelers to be extra cautious this holiday weekend as law enfocement agencies will increase its efforts to keep drunk drivers off the road.