The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Tennessee Highway Patrol today announced plans for an impaired driving enforcement campaign for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend. This traffic safety effort will feature an aggressive “No Refusal” enforcement, beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3 and ending at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 7.
Twenty-one people died in 17 crashes on Tennessee roadways during the 2012 Fourth of July holiday period. That’s a fatality rate of one death every six hours. Of the twenty-one people killed last year, 10 (47.6%) were alcohol related. Seven of the 18 (38.9%) vehicle occupants killed were not wearing safety restraints. Three motorcyclists also died during last year’s July 4th holiday period.
“We are proud to again partner with various local law enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges across the state in a “No Refusal” enforcement campaign during the Fourth of July holiday period. Drunk driving is a threat to public safety, and this specialized enforcement gives us another tool to combat impaired driving and reduce fatal crashes in Tennessee,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.
“No Refusal” permits law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers. THP District Captains have selected two counties in each district to enforce “No Refusal,” based on an increase in DUI-related or fatal crashes. The 16 selected counties include: Knox and Sevier (Knoxville District); Hamilton and Franklin (Chattanooga District); Davidson and Montgomery (Nashville District); Dyer and Tipton (Memphis District); Cocke and Unicoi (Fall Branch District); Cumberland and Warren (Cookeville District); Lincoln and Maury (Lawrenceburg District); and Henry and Weakly Counties (Jackson District).
According to AAA, more than 40 million travelers will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday. Of that figure, 84 percent plan to drive to their destination. A projected 723,973 motorists plan to travel by car in Tennessee during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
“State Troopers will aggressively seek out impaired drivers to ensure the safety of every Tennessee citizen and traveler during this holiday period,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. “In addition, we also urge motorists to wear their safety restraints and make sure all occupants are buckled up. When it comes to traffic safety, no one is above the law or invincible. The dangers of impaired or distracted driving and not wearing a seat belt are real, and often times, deadly,” he added.
During the first six months of 2013, preliminary statistics show 100 people died in traffic crashes that involved alcohol (22.9%) and 46.3 percent of vehicle occupant deaths were unrestrained motorists. As of July 1, 2013, preliminary statistics indicate 436 have died on Tennessee roadways, a decrease of 70 deaths (-13.8%) compared to this same time last year.
As part of the THP’s high visibility enforcement effort, personnel will conduct sobriety, driver’s license and seat belt checkpoints, bar and tavern checks, and saturation patrols across the state.