Friday, January 9, 2015

Police crack down on drunk drivers and those not wearing seat belts

From: Vail Daily

Telling motorists politely to buckle up and drive sober works, but cracking their knuckles with a traffic ticket works better.

Also, traffic tickets work three times better on women than men.

“Overall, the findings suggest that as unpopular as traffic tickets are among drivers, motorist behavior does respond to tickets,” said Dara Lee Luca, the Harvard Kennedy School researcher who did the study.

While road deaths peaked in the 1970s, fatalities actually rose between 2011 and 2012, even though vehicle-miles fell for the ninth straight year.

That sparked things like Click It or Ticket laws and crackdowns on drunk driving, like this one being running through this weekend by local and statewide law enforcement across Colorado.

Nothing beats the belt

Forty-nine percent of vehicle occupants who die in automobiles and light-truck incidents were not wearing seat belts or using child safety seats, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Media campaigns can be a deterrent, but seeing unsafe drivers pulled over on the roadside is a greater deterrent, the study found.

However, the data show a marked decrease in crashes during periods when more tickets were issued, suggesting that the ticketing, not the media campaign, was the key variable.

Holiday crackdown

Holiday crackdowns on drinking and driving meant that for 564 Colorado motorists who drove impaired, the after party was in a jail cell.

The holiday DUI enforcement period runs through this weekend, said the Colorado State Patrol.

“A night in jail is just the first consequence that impaired drivers will face,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “The costs can exceed $10,000 when you add up court costs, lawyer fees, insurance rate increases and more. It’s a cost that can be easily avoided by planning ahead to designate a sober driver or find an alternative ride home.”

Through the 12 DUI enforcement periods in 2014, police statewide made more than 8,000 DUI arrests and more than 150 people died in alcohol-related accidents. That’s down from 9,800 arrests and 187 fatalities in 2013.

“We have the goal of reaching zero traffic fatalities in the state, and though we aren’t there yet, we continue to implement programs to help us reach this goal,” said Darrell Lingk, director of CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety.