Impaired Driving Enforcement Campaign Started By Law Enforcement
On Friday, enforcement officers from West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio collaborated to begin the impaired driving enforcement campaign at the Interstate 64 rest stop in Huntington.
The number of accidents and fatalities caused due to impaired driving has increased in Ohio and more of them happened due to driving under the influence of drugs, according to Maj. Josh Swindell, Ohio State Highway Patrol commander of field operations. He added, “We face new challenges. The drug epidemic with opiates has directly led to an increase in impaired driving fatalities. We have done a fairly good job with getting the word out about driving under the influence of alcohol, but now we have to get the word out about the issue of drug-impaired driving.”
Since 2006, the number of accidents which occurred due to driving under the influence of alcohol has decreased 24% as shown by data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2015. However, the rate of accidents that happen due to drugged driving has increased.
Statistics released by the state Department of Transportation show that the rate of accidents that happened due to drugged driving increased 20% since 2013 and 4,615 accidents happened in 2016. The number of deaths was 3,019 back in 2011 which increased to 4,078 in 2016. West Virginia and Kentucky has seen a similar trend.
Swindell further said, “We aren’t just seeing drugged drivers in the late night hours, like 2 a.m. We are seeing them in the middle of the day, and that’s alarming.”
Data shows the number of individuals at 35,982 who died nationally and almost 30% of these deaths happened due to impaired individuals behind the wheel. The number of deaths occurring due to the use of drugs increased from 2,003 to 7,438 in the time period starting from 1993 to 2015.
Tests revealed that drugs were present in the systems of 43% of individuals who died in U.S. highway accidents, a rate higher than deaths related to alcohol, which was recorded at 37%. The data only showed the presence of drugs in a driver’s system, not whether the drugs were the reason of the accident. It is the 1st time the rate of drugged driving increased from the rate of drunk driving.
1,133 individuals lost their lives in Ohio in 2016 because of individuals who were not driving safely, whereas 346 individuals from the total died due to individuals who were impaired behind the wheel. 271 deaths happened in West Virginia from which 74 occurred due to impaired driving. In Kentucky, 834 deaths happened and 165 of them were caused due to impaired driving.
There is a new challenge for enforcement officers of individuals behind the wheel who are not paying enough attention on driving due to the use of cell phones.
According to Lt. Aaron Martin, of the Kentucky State Police’s Ashland Post, “Last year in Kentucky, distracted driving led the state in crash fatalities. We want to let the public know that law enforcement officers from all three states will be out there to catch those driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, as well as those driving distracted. We want these fatality numbers to go down and for our citizens to feel safe on our roadways.”
Officials believe that collaboration and training are the best ways to become successful and cope with the issues.
West Virginia Public Service Commission Officer, Matt Epling, said, “The West Virginia Public Service Commission will be partnering up with the West Virginia State Police, local law enforcement agencies, the West Virginia Trucking Association and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, with the goal being to eliminate impaired and distracted driving on our roadways.” According to him, drugged driving has become a severe issue due to which major accidents were caused in 2016. He added, “With this concern, law enforcement is being trained to spot these issues and be able to get ahead of the problem. The program is in all three states and is called the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program.”
A resolution was approved by the city for an additional $20,000 from the 2016-17 Highway Safety grant from the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. The amount provided as grant will be utilized for the DRE training, which is sponsored by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.
Training will assist the cops in determining which drug is consumed by the driver for which they have to conduct a series of tests. They also have to rely on other clues because there is no device designed yet which can be utilized by the officers to know which drug has been used by the driver.
To highlight truck safety, the West Virginia Trucking Association, which is part of the American Trucking Association, also took part in the campaign started by law enforcement.
News Source: www.WilliamsOnDailyNews.com