Patrol: #039;If You Drink Drive, You Lose#039;

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 8, 2002

The Ohio State Highway Patrol wants to send a message to drivers this December during National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. "If You Drink & Drive. You Lose."

"If you are going to drink, do not drive," Sgt. Jacob Kisor of the Ironton Post 44 said.

"Don't ruin your holiday. Don't ruin someone else's holiday."

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As part of the public education campaign, radio and television announcements will be aired that will explain what drivers can do to arrange for safe travel and also warn about the penalties.

Especially during the holiday season when people are celebrating, the patrol wants to encourage motorists to designate a sober driver, call a taxi or other safe ride program or make other arrangements.

Kisor said that as part of the program they will have more officers on the road and will focus on enforcing seat belt, DUI, speeding and other traffic violations.

"The holidays will not be as enjoyable this year for hundreds of families in Ohio who will be without loved ones who were killed in crashes caused by impaired drivers this year," Col. Kenneth Morckel, superintendent of the Highway Patrol, said in a written statement.

"Impaired driving is a serious crime that costs Ohioans millions of dollars each year in emergency care costs, lost property and, most important, precious lives."

Impaired drivers caused the death of more than 375 people in Ohio last year. The Patrol hopes to help reach the national goal of reducing alcohol-related deaths nationwide to no more than 11,000 by the year 2005. In 2001, impaired drivers caused 16,000 fatalities nationwide and accounted for 305,000 injuries.

During last year's Christmas holiday, 22 people were killed on Ohio's roads. Nine were alcohol related, Kisor said.

"It is a statewide problem," he said. "In Lawrence County we have had an increase in alcohol related crashes."

In Lawrence County this year, eight fatal crashes occured, causing nine deaths. At least 37 percent were alcohol related. By the same time last year, only two fatal crashes had occurred claiming three lives.

To attempt to address this increase,

area law enforcement officials participated in Operation Tri-State Holiday C.A.R.E. from Nov. 25 to Dec. 1. Cooperating agencies included the Ohio State Patrol, the West Virginian State Police Wayne, Athalia Police and the Ashland Police Department.

The goal was to reduce the number of crashes, especially fatal. More than 724 citations were issued and no fatal crashes were reported

in these areas during this time frame. Kisor said the agencies will cooperate again from Dec. 20 through 22.