Drive sober or get pulled over
Thomas Adam’s first day on the job gave him a lasting memory.
The executive director of the Boyd County, Kentucky EMS encountered an accident involving an impaired driver. Something he said he will always remember just how devastating it is.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013 more than 10,000 people were killed on highways as a result of drunk driving, and on Friday morning, local law enforcement kicked off its drunk driving campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
“We’re here today to make sure that everyone is aware that law enforcement throughout the Tri-State area will be cracking down on drunk driving,” Ashland Police Chief Robert Ratliff said.
The campaign, which will put a special emphasis on drunk driving by national messaging about drunk driving dangers, increased officers on the road and checkpoints, will continue through the Labor Day holiday on Sept. 7.
Of those killed in drunk driving accidents in 2013, 38 percent occurred on Labor Day weekend with 424 crash fatalities nationwide.
“Too many people think their actions don’t affect anybody else. They know it’s illegal, they know it’s wrong, but they do it anyway,” Bill Bell, director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, said. “They make decisions as if those statistics just can’t happen to them.”
While alcohol is still a major problem in these accidents, drugs are becoming more and more prevalent and are included in drunk driving arrest statistics.
“Times have changed. Years ago when I was on the street, the most impaired operators that we encountered were the result of alcohol-related offenses and the consumption of alcohol primarily,” Ratliff said. “Today, officers encounter a whole new set of challenges in enforcing impaired driving statutes. It’s not just alcohol anymore. In Ashland, drugs are beginning to overtake alcohol and quickly becoming the leading reason for impaired driving.”
Others who spoke at the event included Huntington Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli, Staff Lt. David Allwine, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Cheryl Parker, corporate public affairs manager for AAA and Allen Blair, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
The police departments of Ashland, Grayson, Louisa, Huntington and Portsmouth were represented at the event as well as the Boyd County and Lawrence County, Kentucky sheriff’s offices, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Air Evac Lifeteam.