Law Enforcement Gearing Up For Critical New Year's Eve Roadway Safety Efforts | Events
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety troopers and officers are making plans to keep the highways safe as people celebrate this long New Year's holiday weekend, which begins tonight at 6 p.m. and runs through midnight January 1. Last year, over the 78-hour New Year’s holiday period, seven people were killed in traffic crashes.
“While other people are making party plans to ring in the new year, we are looking at our DUI arrests and crash data and fine-tuning our enforcement plans to ensure our resources are exactly where they need to be,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “With the holiday falling on a Tuesday, people are likely to take another long weekend, which can involve a dangerous combination of celebrations, alcohol and extended travel.”
Smith said this reinforces the need for concentrated enforcement.
Since SCDPS kicked off its Sober or Slammer impaired driving campaign on December 14th, 35 people have died on South Carolina roadways. That campaign will run until January 1. The SC Highway Patrol made over 800 DUI arrests during the SOS campaign last year and has made over 500 DUI arrests since the campaign began December 14th. Historical trends for that time period look like this:
- December 16, 2011 to January 2, 2012: 30 fatalities as a result of 27 fatal crashes;
- December 16, 2010 to January 3, 2011: 53 fatalities as a result of 48 fatal crashes;
- December 16, 2009 to January 3, 2010: 41 fatalities as a result of 36 fatal crashes.
The state has had some good news recently from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with regard to alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. South Carolina has dropped from being tied for number one in the country for the percentage of overall fatalities that involved an alcohol-impaired driver in 2010 to number seven in 2011 – a decrease from 44 percent to 38 percent in 2011.
Smith pointed out that while this is good news, the state is concerned about overall fatalities and the recent rise. Coming out of summer, South Carolina had consistently trailed behind last year in fatalities – as many as 45 deaths below last year at one point. However, in November that number began climbing and now fatality numbers are one ahead of last year at this time with a total of 827.
That’s why Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver said he will be pulling extra resources for New Year’s enforcement including troopers who normally work in the offices. These numbers will also be boosted by joint public safety checkpoints and patrols with local law enforcement agencies.
“New Year’s eve is not a holiday for troopers,” said Col. Mike Oliver. “We know visibility makes a difference. If people know we are out in large numbers, they tend to adjust their driving behaviors. Our troopers will tell you that your very best insurance policy on the road is your seat belt and a designated driver.”
The SC Department of Transportation is also supporting the Sober or Slammer! campaign. The agency is allowing SCDPS to display “Statewide DUI Crackdown in Progress” on its overhead message boards and “DUI Crackdown” on the portable message boards. The messages will display from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on December 27-29 and December 31-January 1. SCDPS encourages motorists to call *HP or *47 if they see someone they suspect is driving while impaired.