During the 2019 Labor Day holiday, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Brown County, will partner with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Adminisration (NHTSA) to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives.

The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs from Aug. 14 through Sept. 2. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on U.S. roadways.

Unfortunately, statistics prove that there is still a lot of work to do to put an end to drunk driving. According to NHTSA, 10,874 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2017. On average, 10,000 people were killed each year from 2013 to 2017 — one person was killed in drunk-driving crashes every 48 minutes in 2017. That’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors. This is why Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Brown County is working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death.

During the 2017 Labor Day holiday period (6 p.m., Sept. 1, until 5:59 a.m., Sept. 5), there were 376 vehicle crash fatalities nationwide. Forty-four percent of those fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking (.01+ BAC). More than one-third (36 percent) of the fatalities involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ BAC), and more than one-fourth (26 percent) involved drivers who were driving with a BAC almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC). Age is a particularly risky factor: Among drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 who were killed in crashes over the Labor Day holiday period in 2017, 42 percent of those drivers were drunk, with BACs of .08 or higher.

“Labor Day should be a time for friends and family to come together to enjoy the last days of summer,” said Courtney Parrott. “We need commitment from our community members that they’ll keep the streets free of drunk drivers so that everyone can have a safe holiday. This is a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal, and it takes lives. Help us put an end to this senseless behavior.”

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and NHTSA are working together to provide citizens with resources and information to get them home safely. Courtney Parrott reminds citizens that: “Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior. It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why, during the Labor Day holiday, we will make zero exceptions for drunk driving. There are just no excuses.”

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Watch UR BAC program recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

Remember that it is never OK to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation, or use a ride sharing service to get home safely.

If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact Brownwood/Brown County Law Enforcement at 325-646-5510.

Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely.