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At a virtual event Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) kicked off its Labor Day impaired driving high-visibility enforcement campaign, reminding Americans not to drive impaired. This year’s high-visibility enforcement will be supported by a $10 million national advertising campaign. Motorists can expect to see increased law enforcement on the road through Sept. 7.
“Driving while impaired is a leading cause of fatalities on our nation’s roads and, during this Labor Day weekend, please take action to avoid these completely preventable tragedies,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.
NHTSA’s latest alcohol-impaired driving data shows that, in 2018, there were 10,511 motor vehicle crash fatalities involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/dL or higher, 29% of all traffic fatalities that year. About two-thirds of alcohol-impaired fatalities (7,051) were in crashes involving a driver with a BAC of .15 g/dL or higher – close to twice the legal limit in most states.
This year’s campaign runs through Labor Day weekend, one of the deadliest times on U.S. roads. During this period, thousands of participating state and local law enforcement agencies will be monitoring roadways to protect the public from impaired drivers.
“Our campaign’s focus is to raise national awareness about the dangers of driving while impaired, and to prevent future crash fatalities and injuries,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. “NHTSA encourages everyone to celebrate this socially distanced Labor Day safely and create a plan that prevents you, your friends, or your family from driving impaired.”
Along with Owens, the virtual event was attended by Chao, Mothers Against Drunk Driving National President Helen Witty, representatives from the California Highway Patrol and Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Ed and Denise Hill.
Driving impaired by any substance – alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal – is against the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Even in states where marijuana laws have changed, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of the drug. Prescription and over-the-counter medications can also impair one’s ability to drive safely, and driving under their influence is illegal.