NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Highway Patrol will increase its highway traffic safety enforcement efforts on Saturday, May 5, to coincide with Cinco de Mayo celebrations. During the 24-hour holiday period, State Troopers will focus heavily on seat belt safety and DUI enforcement.
The 2012 Cinco de Mayo holiday period begins at 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 5 and ends that same day at 11:59 p.m. One person was killed on Tennessee roadways during last year’s Cinco de Mayo period. The only fatality was wearing a seatbelt and alcohol was not involved. In 2010, four people were killed on state roadways during the 24-hour Cinco de Mayo holiday.
“The Tennessee Highway Patrol will aggressively enforce our state’s seat belt and impaired driving laws to protect the public this Cinco de Mayo holiday,” Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “Particularly, the number of seat belt related fatalities is on the rise this year. We want to remind everyone to wear your seat belt and act responsibly this weekend.”
In 2011, statistics show that 378 passenger vehicle occupants killed in Tennessee were not wearing seat belts, a 10.6 percent decrease from 2010. However, of the 238 vehicle occupants killed this year, 132 were not wearing seat belts. That is an increase of 17.9 percent compared to this same time last year.
In 2010, 283 people died in Tennessee traffic crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. That’s a 5.4 percent decline from the 299 impaired driving deaths in 2009, and a 7.5 percent decline from the 306 impaired driving deaths in 2008.
“Sobriety checkpoints and DUI saturation patrols have remained an effective strategy for removing impaired drivers from the roadways,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. “We will utilize these measures and strictly enforce seat belt violations to ensure everyone arrives at their destinations safely this Cinco de Mayo weekend.”
As of May 1, preliminary statistics indicate that 301 people have died on Tennessee roadways this year, an increase of 24 deaths (8.7%) compared to 277 fatalities at this same time a year ago.
A list of Cinco de Mayo safety tips are listed below:
• Plan Ahead. If you plan to drink, arrange a safe way home before the festivities begin.
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.
• If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use public transportation, or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
• Use the local Sober Ride program.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, promptly contact your local law enforcement agency (Dial *THP)
• Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you or someone you know is about to ride with one that is impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
As part of the Cinco de Mayo public safety awareness and enforcement campaign, the THP has scheduled saturations and sobriety checkpoints in high volume and high crash corridors across the state to look for aggressive and impaired drivers as well as safety belt violators. State Troopers will also conduct seat belt saturations, line patrols and bar checks this weekend.