Announcements help reduce impaired driving

Dear Editor,

Labor Day holiday weekend is less than one week away. This is considered the last holiday of the summer season. Many will be heading to the beaches one last time or grilling out with family and friends.

During this holiday weekend, we want you to enjoy yourself and the holiday celebrations, but to do so safely.

Local law enforcement and highway patrol will be out on the highways this busy holiday weekend conducting safety checkpoints and saturation patrols. As these enforcement operations are being conducted, they will be announcing where they will be conducting these operations.

Barnwell Police Department conducted safety checkpoints last week and announced where the checkpoints would be conducted on their Facebook page. This created a good many comments. Many questioned why they would announce where they were going to be conducting these operations.

With that in mind, I want to take a moment to see if I could clarify why this is important and a strategy that has been proven to be effective.

Although it may appear that announcing the location of the checkpoints may be counterproductive—alerting drinking drivers and others of these enforcement operations and the areas in which they will be conducted ---it is actually a proven, effective strategy.

High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) is a universal traffic safety approach designed to create deterrence and change unlawful traffic behaviors. HVE combines highly visible and proactive law enforcement targeting a specific traffic safety issue; such as impaired driving. Law enforcement efforts are combined with a highly visible publicity strategy to educate the public and promote voluntary compliance with the law.

Publicizing actual and upcoming law enforcement efforts (safety checkpoints, saturation patrols, etc.) including the frequency of enforcement and the number of arrests and citations made in collaboration with frequent highly visible safety checkpoints are an essential compliment to the actual DUI enforcement operations. Research has shown that the combination of these two strategies can reduce the incidence and prevalence of persons drinking and driving as well as other traffic safety issues.

Our goal is to let you, the public, know that we do not want drunk drivers on our highways putting our family and friends at risk. And if you are drinking and driving, you are at an increased risk of getting stopped. Announcing that checkpoints are being conducted allows those drinking to make safer decisions - (1) If you are going to drink, stay off the highways; (2) get a designated driver; (3) call someone to come and pick you up; (4) stay where you are and sleep it off.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is also out conducting saturation patrols and safety checkpoints. They have released their new Sober or Slammer campaign. The campaign is currently being shown on local television stations and has been on Facebook. The 2016 “Sober or Slammer” campaign runs from August 19, 2016 to September 5, 2016. During this time, the highway patrol strengthens their bonds with local law enforcement agencies and works to crack down on driving under the influence. The campaign uses emojis to share the message that “beer + car = police car”. A picture of alcohol plus a picture of a car equals being pulled over is a message that everyone can understand.

I hope this helps clear up some of the misconceptions and create a better understanding of the purpose for announcing when and where highly visible enforcement operations will be conducted. Be safe this Labor Day holiday and every day. Keep our highways safe by not drinking and driving or driving under the influence of drugs. Let’s put an end to impaired driving. The life you save may be your own.

For more information about how to reduce impaired driving, contact Pam Rush, ECHO Coordinator, Axis I Center of Barnwell, 541-1245 or prush@axis1.org.

Sincerely,

Pam Rush,

ECHO Coordinator,

Axis I Center,

Barnwell