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ARKANSAS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ON ALERT DURING LABOR DAY TRAVEL PERIOD PRIORITIES DIRECTED TO DWI

August 16, 2012 For more information contact: Ann Whitehead 501-618-8133 ann.whitehead@asp.arkansas.gov (LITTLE ROCK) – Law enforcement officers are urging Arkansas travelers to exercise safety on the state’s highways, city streets and county roads during the final summer holiday. Police agencies plan to conduct additional statewide saturation patrols and checkpoints to identify and arrest drunk drivers and issue violator citations to those who ignore the Arkansas seat belt and child safety seat laws. The initiative will begin August 17th and continue through the September 3rd, Labor Day holiday. Impaired driving and failure to comply with safety belt laws are two of the more common contributing factors to injuries and fatalities from motor vehicle crashes on Arkansas roadways. “Our primary goal during the enforcement period is to prevent injuries and save lives,” said Colonel JR Howard, Director of the Arkansas State Police and Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “While we enforce the laws year round, our heightened presence around peak travel times becomes critically important as that’s when the risk of injury or fatality is the highest and the need to buckle up is the greatest.” During 2010 almost 31 percent of fatalities in motor vehicle crashes in Arkansas involved alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle traffic crashes involving impaired drivers or motorcycle riders resulted in 147 deaths across the country during the 2010 Labor Day weekend. Overall across the United States, an alcohol impaired driving-related fatality occurs every 51 minutes. Seat belt use saves thousands of lives across the U.S. every year. Traffic safety statistics show that in 2010 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,546 lives nationwide. Yet, too many motorists still fail to buckle up. During the calendar year 2010 there were 22,187 passenger vehicle occupants killed in motor vehicle crashes and 51 percent of them were not wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes. In Arkansas 241 of the 407 motor vehicle occupants killed (59 percent) in crashes during 2010 were not properly restrained. “For many Arkansans this is a time of relaxation, family gatherings, traveling to events or perhaps an end of season vacation.” Colonel Howard said. “Please do not let it become a time of a tragedy. Make safety a priority this Labor Day Holiday. Everyone can help by obeying the laws: buckle up and drive sober.” The Labor Day Holiday law enforcement crackdown is funded by federal traffic safety funds through the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office and runs concurrently with a media campaign to remind motorists, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket.” For more information, log onto TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.