The winter holiday season is a time of year when Virginia sees an uptick in traffic fatalities due to drunken driving. A new campaign is working to spread awareness and save lives.
It’s called the Checkpoint Strikeforce Campaign, and it’s all about stopping drunken drivers through checkpoints and an increased police presence.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 32% of all roadway fatalities in the state involved drunken drivers during last year’s Christmas holiday.
Kurt Erickson, president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, said there have already been more drunken-driving fatalities this year compared to last year.
“Even during a pandemic, there are more drunk-driving incidents on Virginia’s roadways between Jan. 1 and Dec. 8 of last year. This year: 253 such fatalities. Last year, there were 249,” he said.
The campaign is also focused on education targeting men between the ages of 21-35, a group he said is more likely to drink and drive.
“The whole campaign theme this year is ‘Act Like It’ — if you’re old enough to drink, we want people to act like it and plan an exit strategy before they go out,” Erickson said.
As part of the campaign, 741 saturation patrols targeting impaired drivers will be conducted by state and local law enforcement. That means police will be out specifically looking for impaired drivers now through Jan. 1. Officials will also conduct 94 sobriety checkpoints.