The Western States Traffic Safety Coalition (WSTSC) will initiate a special effort this New Year’s Eve to ensure the dangerous driver behaviors of impaired drivers have no place to hide from the vigilance of their officers/ troopers. The “Coalition” is made up of 11 states that include the Arizona Department of Public Safety, California Highway Patrol, Colorado State Patrol, Idaho State Police, Montana Highway Patrol, Nevada Highway Patrol, Oregon State Police, South Dakota Highway Patrol, Utah Highway Patrol, Washington State Patrol, and the Wyoming Highway Patrol. These law enforcement agencies that make up the WSTSC are committed and unified to keeping the people of their communities’ safe during this holiday.
Even during this COVID-19 national health emergency some may feel New Year’s Eve is the ultimate party night and engage in risky driving behavior, but police will be alert throughout the Western region for impaired drivers. Impaired driving has a devastating impact on the quality of life for those in all communities. Assertive traffic law enforcement activity with a targeted public safety focus is the purpose of this partnership.
Nationally, over the past five years, an average of 300 people have died in impaired driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year. Last year, there were 10,142 people killed nationwide in impaired driving crashes accounting for nearly one-third of the yearly driving fatalities. These deaths are 100% preventable. The tragedy of these deaths is felt year-round, but for many, most strongly during the holidays.
In recent years, specifically drug-impaired driving has become a major highway safety issue. Driving impaired by any substance — alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal — is against the law in all states. Law enforcement officers are trained to observe drivers’ behavior and to identify impaired drivers. Additionally, these law enforcement agencies have provided specialty training to some of their officers (drug recognition experts-DRE) to identify those drivers impaired by drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.
Even in states where marijuana laws have changed, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of the drug. All the state law enforcement agencies involved have ensured their officers/ troopers and DREs are properly trained to recognize and handle drug-impaired drivers as a direct investment in safety.
The WSTSC encourages everyone to plan ahead, especially when celebrating any holiday, and to never drive impaired or high. We want everyone to ring in the New Year safely. The goal is zero deaths due to impaired driving on the New Year’s holiday.