The end of summer is traditionally marked by the Labor Day holiday, a time for our country to reflect on the hard work of our fellow Americans. The long weekend is typically celebrated through picnics, pool parties, and barbecues, as families and friends enjoy the last few days of summer before fall and winter approach. Sadly, the Labor Day holiday is also one of the deadliest, with drunk drivers endangering themselves and others on America’s roadways.
The Sevierville Police Department is partnering with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office to stop drunk drivers and help save lives. The high-visibility enforcement campaign, Booze It and Lose It, runs through September 7. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.
Statistics show a frightening trend in drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,265 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2015, an increase from the 9,967 people killed in 2014. On average, 10,000 people were killed each year from 2011 to 2015—one person killed every 51 minutes in 2015. That’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors. This is why SPD is working with THSO to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death.
“We’re stressing the dangers of driving impaired to our community,” said SPD Chief Joseph Manning. “Drunk driving is a massive problem in the United States, with more than 10,000 people dying annually. If you’re out on the roads and you see someone driving drunk, please call us. You could help save a life.”
SPD and THSO are reminding citizens of the many resources available to get them home safely.
“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior,” said SPD Patrol Captain Sam Hinson. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why, during the Labor Day holiday, we will make zero exceptions for drunk driving. There are just no excuses.”
SPD recommends safe alternatives to drinking and driving, including:
• Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get home safely.
• Call a taxi or use a ride-hailing service.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact SPD at 865-453-5506.
• Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
For more information about the THSO, visit www.tntrafficsafety.org.