The numbers show that Minnesotans are increasingly intolerant of drinking and driving.
In 2008, nearly 36,000 people were arrested for DWIs.
By 2017, that number dropped to around 25,000 – a decrease of 31 percent, and the trend has dropped dramatically over the past several decades.
In the 1960s, more than half of all traffic deaths were related to drinking and driving, whereas in 2016, only 19 percent were.
Although progress is being made, drinking and driving is still a problem.
In fact, the holiday with the third highest number of DWI arrests per hour, Labor Day, is right around the corner. Labor Day ties with St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day at 3.8 DWI arrests per hour, and it only trails the Fourth of July (3.9 per hour) and Halloween (four per hour).
That’s why more than 300 law enforcement agencies across the state are participating in an enhanced enforcement campaign through Sept. 2.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the funds to pay officers for their overtime, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the effort. That means law enforcement officers all over the state will be putting in extra time to catch drunk drivers before they hurt anyone.
So what can the public do to help?
It starts by making a decision to not drink and drive. That means planning ahead. That may include asking a friend to be a designated driver, lining up public transportation or a taxi or just staying put on a friend’s couch for the night.
Speaking up is another way to help.
If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, help them find a safe way home instead. Offer to be a sober driver ahead of time for loved ones – tell them you’ll pick them up anytime, anywhere.
If you witness impaired driving behavior, call 911 to report it.
You’ll need to tell the dispatcher the location, the vehicle’s license plate number and the dangerous driving behavior you have observed. Last but certainly not least, buckle up.
Every single time.
A seat belt will give you the best chance of surviving a crash with a drunk driver.
So enjoy what’s left of our beautiful summer weather, but if you are impaired stay safe by staying away from the driver’s seat.
– Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety