The Western States Traffic Safety Coalition (WSTSC) will initiate a special effort this New Year’s Eve to ensure the dangerous driver behaviors of impaired drivers don’t result in the senseless loss of life and injury due to collisions on our roadways. The “Coalition” is made up of 11 states that include the Arizona Department of Public Safety, California Highway Patrol, Colorado State Patrol, Idaho State Police, Montana Highway Patrol, Nevada Highway Patrol, Oregon State Police, South Dakota Highway Patrol, Utah Highway Patrol, Washington State Patrol, and the Wyoming Highway Patrol. These law enforcement agencies that make up the WSTSC are committed and unified to keeping the people of their communities safe during this Holiday.
This New Year’s Eve Initiative will be the third one the WSTSC has partnered for participation. Often time, some may feel New Year’s Eve is the ultimate party night and engage in risky driving behavior, but the “Coalition’s” officers will be alert throughout the Western region for impaired drivers. We receive public feedback that continually underscores and echoes that law enforcement should strictly enforce those laws that protect our loved ones. Impaired driving enforcement is one such law. Impaired driving has a devastating impact on the quality of life for those in all communities. Thoughtful and professional traffic law enforcement activity with a targeted public safety focus is the purpose of this partnership.
Nationally, over the past five years, an average of 300 people have died in impaired driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year. Last year, there were over 10,000 people killed nationwide in impaired driving crashes accounting for nearly one-third of the yearly driving fatalities. These deaths are 100% preventable. The tragedy of these deaths is felt year-round, but for many, most strongly during the holidays.
In recent years, specifically, drug-impaired driving has become a major highway safety issue. Driving impaired by any substance—alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal—is against the law in all states. Law enforcement officers are trained to observe drivers’ behavior and to identify impaired drivers. Additionally, these law enforcement agencies have provided specialized training to some of their officers (drug recognition experts-DRE) to identify those drivers impaired by drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.
Even in states where marijuana laws have changed, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of the drug. All the state law enforcement agencies involved have ensured their officers/ troopers and DREs are properly trained to recognize and handle drug-impaired drivers as a direct investment in safety.
The WSTSC encourages everyone to plan ahead, especially when celebrating any holiday, and to never drive impaired or high. We want everyone to ring in the New Year safely. Our goal is zero deaths due to impaired driving on the New Year’s holiday. There are numerous driving tactics you can use to keep yourself, your family, and your friends safe. The WSTSC encourages drivers to follow these 10 driving tips for safe travel during the holidays.
1. Don’t drive after consuming alcohol or any impairing substance;
2. Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you;
3. Yield the right of way rather than take it;
4. If frustrated or angry, take deep breaths and focus;
5. Drive the speed limit and all occupants wear a seatbelt;
6. Eliminate distractions like cell phones;
7. Always have your eyes on the road;
8. Pay attention to road signs and weather conditions;
9. Have two hands on the steering wheel; and
10. Be aware of erratic drivers