NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) prepares for its second summer enforcement campaign as the 2010 Labor Day holiday weekend draws near.
The THP will participate in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest attack on impaired driving, beginning Friday, September 3, at 6 p.m. and ending Monday, September 6, at 11:59 p.m.
“In an effort to crackdown on impaired driving incidents, our state troopers will join Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and thousands of other law enforcement and highway safety agencies throughout the state and nation this holiday period,” Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell said. “Drunk driving is one of America’s deadliest crimes. The THP will be vigilant in protecting our roadways from the careless decisions of those who choose to put Tennesseans in harms way.”
Over the 2009 Labor Day holiday, nine people were killed in nine fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways, down from 12 people killed on Tennessee roadways in 2008. Throughout the state in 2008, 327 people were killed in crashes where the driver or motorcyclist had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. That is down from 377 people killed in 2007 with a BAC of .08 or higher.
Nationwide in 2008, nearly 12,000 people died in highway crashes due to impaired driving. The picture for motorcycle riders is particularly bleak. Two years ago, 32 percent of motor vehicle fatalities were drivers or motorcycle riders with BACs of .08 or above. Additionally, in 2008, the percentage of drivers with a BAC of .08 or above was highest for motorcycle riders with 29 percent.
“Our message is simple – zero tolerance. If you are over the limit, you are under arrest,” said THP Colonel Mike Walker. “Impaired driving is not a joke; people have been tragically killed as a result of someone else’s poor judgment. Our goal is to prevent that from happening by patrolling state roadways in full force and making no excuses or exceptions for those driving under the influence.”
The THP has established 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. Last year, state troopers issued 55 DUI, 14 reckless driving, two public drunkenness, and 21 open container citations during the Labor Day period.
While drunk driving is especially common among young males, data shows that an increasing number of females are being arrested and convicted for driving while impaired. In Tennessee, the percentage of female DUI arrests between 2002 and 2009 increased by 4.2 percentage points from 18.5 percent in 2002 to 22.7 percent in 2009. The percentage of DUI convictions in Tennessee against females increased from approximately 18 percent of DUI convictions in 2008 to about 21 percent of DUI convictions in 2009.