ST. GEORGE — Every year, the Independence Day holiday brings an increase of alcohol consumption resulting in increased serious injuries and fatalities.
In order to combat this, the Nevada Highway Patrol is working with various law enforcement agency partners through the Joining Forces Program to boost enforcement efforts to address impaired driving and riding offenses. Utah Highway Patrol and the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Highway Patrol will also up their own enforcement efforts to the same end.
Throughout the month of July, NHP troopers will be looking for impaired motorists and motorcyclists in hopes of discouraging the behavior and sending a strong message about the consequences that accompany drinking and driving.
“You can hand over your keys or your life,” NHP Trooper and Public Information Officer Chelsea Stuenkel said. “We want to encourage drivers to make the right choice because we don’t get second chances at life”
UHP will be conducting a similar sweep for impaired drivers, especially over the Independence Day weekend, Lt. Shawn Hinton said.
Law enforcement officers around Southern Utah will also be making extra speed and seat belt enforcement sweeps.
“We have quite a bit of coverage with the combined speed and seat belt shifts, as well as DUI sweeps,” UHP Sgt. Dan Ferguson said.
Anticipating heavy traffic through the Virgin River Gorge over the weekend, Arizona DPS will be assigning extra officers to its highway patrol to make sure everything goes smoothly from Friday to Sunday, Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Bottoms said.
“We’ll have significant backup for the night shift to target impaired drivers Friday,” Bottoms said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System reports that Nevada has seen an increase in fatalities of 4 percent compared to the same time last year, according to the NHP. If Nevada mirrors its 2014 trend, approximately one-third of its fatalities this year will involve alcohol.
In Utah, Ferguson said that fatalities pick up during the summer, calling it the hundred deadliest days, starting Memorial Day.
To help achieve the “Zero Fatalities” goal, drivers and riders are encouraged to use the following guidelines:
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver
- If impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation
- Use your community’s sober ride programs
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact 911
- If someone is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements
Statistics and other related information are available online.
Ed. note: About fatality statistics Last year in Arizona — nine people were killed in a total of seven fatal crashes along highways and local streets over the Independence Day weekend. The sobering figures were higher during the holiday weekend in 2013, when 16 people died in 15 fatal crashes across the state.
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