A new initiative seeks to raise awareness about drunk driving this week. From August 21 to September 7, New Jersey drivers in some areas will go through sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols. This is part of the national campaign to "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over." The goal is to reinforce the message that drinking and driving is highly dangerous and those convicted will receive harsh punishment.
According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, 27 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in 2013 involved alcohol impairment. Drunk driving causes roughly 10,000 deaths nationwide each year. Crashes involving drunk drivers cause approximately $50 billion in costs every year. The problem has persisted despite years of effort to spread the message of just how deadly drinking and driving can be.
Part of the problem in combating drunk driving is the certainty of enforcement. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the average person arrested for drunk driving had driven under the influence 80 times without getting caught. While the cost of getting a DUI is certainly high, the chances that you will get caught during a specific incident is quite low. Checkpoints and increased enforcement can help tip the scales and discourage drivers from taking the risk.
Public transportation and the availability of taxis or ride-sharing services also help deter drunk driving. The less hassle involved in getting home without driving, the less likely you are to risk a DUI by driving drunk. That said, everyone who plans to drink, or finds themselves drinking, needs to have a plan to get home that does not involve getting behind the wheel. Drunk driving kills people. If you do it and the worst that happens is you get pulled over and arrested, you should consider yourself lucky.
Source: Ocean City Patch, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign Begins Friday in Somers Point," by William Sokolic, 21 August 2015