Traffic enforcement plans have been announced for the New Year’s holidays. The New Year’s enforcement campaign will begin at 4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31, and will conclude at Midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
The total number of people traveling this holiday season is expected to be up compared to last year. Due to how both holidays fall early in the week, there will be a significant increase in the number of motorists traveling throughout the Knoxville area through Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The safety of all motorists will be the focus of the department’s holiday traffic enforcement effort.
In an effort to reduce holiday accidents and remove drunk and impaired drivers from Tennessee highways, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is stepping up their sobriety checkpoints during the holiday season.
Commissioner Bill Gibbons said, “It is the policy of the Department of Safety to utilize sobriety checkpoints as a deterrent to and in the detection of persons driving under the influence of intoxicants who pose a threat to the welfare of the cites of Tennessee.”
It is also the policy to utilize checkpoints in a safe, effective, uniform and lawful manner established by the department of Safety in the enforcement of the state’s DUI related laws under TCA Title 55, Chapter 10.
Sgt. Randy Huckeby of the Knoxville District said sobriety checkpoints are scheduled to be conducted on Old Knoxville Highway (State Route 33) at the I-140 ramp in Blount County, from approximately 12:30 a.m. until approximately 2:30 a.m. Jan. 1, 2013.
Sgt. Huckeby also said Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Alcoa Police and Maryville Police may participate in the operation.
Throughout the holiday enforcement efforts Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Knoxville Police Department will also focus their attention on drivers who are speeding, following too closely, or who are driving recklessly. These three actions contribute to more crashes within Knoxville than any other causation factor.
KPD Chief David Rausch said, “By focusing on motorists who drive recklessly, we will reduce the number of crashes which will also result in fewer injury producing crashes. Simply put, more travelers will make it to their holiday destination unharmed.”
During the 2011 Christmas holiday enforcement effort, officers issued 650 driving related citations. Twenty-five motorists were arrested for DUI. Officers investigated 63 traffic crashes with nine of those resulting in injuries. The last fatality to occur during a Christmas enforcement effort occurred in 2010.
During the 2011-2012 New Year’s holiday traffic campaign, 1,054 driving related citations were issued. Officers discovered 120 motorists driving on a suspended or revoked license or they had no license at all. Thirty-one motorists were arrested for DUI. Officers also investigated 56 crashes with 10 of those resulting in injuries. One fatality occurred during this time period.
Chief Rausch said, “We urge all motorists to slow down, buckle their safety belt, and above all, do not drink and drive. These simple steps could mean the difference between life and death.”
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) includes not only alcohol, but any intoxicant, narcotic drug, or other drug producing central nervous system effects, including prescription drugs.
So far, in 2012, 999 motorists died on Tennessee roadways. More than 25 percent of those were alcohol-related.
2011 Holiday Traffic Statistics
9 DEATHS IN 6 CRASHES
65 percent involved alcohol
4 out of 9 were not wearing seat belts
By Wes Hall