PRESTONSBURG — Police across the Big Sandy gathered Thursday in Archer Park to send a warning:
“Drive sober, or get pulled over.”
Kentucky State Police joined with police and sheriff’s offices in Floyd, Pike and Johnson counties Thursday to unveil their latest enforcement campaign, beginning today and running through Sept. 4.
Newly-appointed KSP Post 9 Capt. Curtis O’Bannon spent his first day at his new job letting motorists know that local officers will be actively hunting drunk and drugged drivers, as well as other common offenders.
“The purpose of this campaign is a zero-tolerance purpose,” O’Bannon said. “We’re going to be enforcing DUI laws, seat belt and child restraint, as well as speeding enforcement, to make these highways safer for you and I to travel.”
O’Bannon said the stakes are high.
“One lost life is too many lost lives in a DUI-related crash, and I think everybody would agree with that,” O’Bannon said. “The safety of families and the people we care about, who drive these roadways every single day, that’s the importance of traffic enforcement.”
Bob Criswell, law enforcement liaison with the state Department of Highway Safety, agreed and said statistics show that campaigns such as “Drive Sober” are needed.
“If you look at the numbers, last year in the state of Kentucky there were over 4,500 crashes involving impaired drivers,” Criswell said. “And in those crashes, 158 deaths occurred, not to count almost 2,300 injuries. So you can imagine the toll, through pain and suffering, and financially.”
And Labor Day is a prime target for police. During last year’s holiday weekend, 13 people were killed and over 330 people were injured on Kentucky roads. Six of those deaths were related to drunk or drugged driving.
“Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement, like ‘Drive Sober, or Get Pulled Over,’ is a campaign that will reduce impaired-driving fatalities,” Criswell said.
Coal Run city commission and member of the Pike County Highway Safety Team, Andrew Scott, was at the event and spoke on the seriousness of drunk and drugged driving.
“Impaired driving is, in fact, the most deadliest crime that can be committed in the United States today,” Scott said. “In fact, in 2010, more than 10,000 people died in vehicle or motorcycle crashes caused by someone who was at or over the limit of 0.08 blood-alcohol content. And also, it is important to note that, while we have been standing here in Archer Park, one person has died as the result of a DUI-related crash. There is an average of one fatality every 51 minutes, as a result of alcohol- and drug-impaired driving.”
Prestonsburg Police Officer John Pack noted his department will be active in the campaign.
“Basically, what we are looking for are impaired drivers, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to try to cut down on the traffic problems … mostly from highways 23, 80, as well as checkpoints throughout the area,” Pack said.