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Holiday DWI, seat-belt blitz begins Friday

Statement as issued Wednesday by the Indiana State Police:

Fort Wayne, IN – In 2011, there were 476 alcohol-related collisions in Indiana during the month of November, resulting in five fatalities. There were also 415 collisions that reported non-restraint use which resulted in 12 fatalities.

The Thanksgiving holiday period is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and to help save lives on Indiana roadways this Thanksgiving, the Indiana State Police will participate in the statewide blitz known as Safe Family Travel.

Safe Family Travel is an annual enforcement effort that combines high-visibility seatbelt and impaired driving patrols. Conducted by more than 250 state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal highway safety funding from Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, the effort will start this Friday, November 16th, and run through Sunday, December 2nd.

During this 16-day blitz, Indiana law enforcement officers will work thousands of overtime hours, day and night, to ensure that motorists are driving responsibly and traveling safely on the state’s roadways.

“During this Thanksgiving holiday, many more people are on the road traveling to visit friends and family. So whether you’re traveling across the country or just across town, one of the best ways to ensure a safe arrival is to always buckle up, and if you plan to consume alcohol, (designate) a sober driver,” said Lieutenant Tony Casto, Fort Wayne District Commander of the Indiana State Police.

In addition to the alcohol-related fatalities that occurred on Indiana roadways last November, data further shows that there were a total of 235 injuries and 32 serious bodily injuries reported during that same time. Likewise, in addition to the fatalities that occurred due to non-restraint use, there were 476 injuries and 68 serious bodily injuries reported.

Child passengers are also an impacted group. In 2011, there were 5,191 children ages 0-15 involved in collisions resulting in 3,951 reported injuries and 38 fatalities.

“Many of these injuries and deaths could be prevented if drivers would just plan ahead. That is why I want to caution all drivers that if you are caught not wearing your seatbelt, or you have child passengers who are not properly restrained, you will be stopped and you will receive a ticket. If you are caught driving impaired, we will detect you, and ultimately place you under arrest,” Lt. Casto continued.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent, when seat beats are worn correctly.

“Safe Family Travel” is supported by federal highway safety funding awarded to the Indiana State Police from the Traffic Safety division of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. The mobilization is reinforced by a paid, statewide advertising campaign and additional public outreach efforts. These efforts are designed to increase the regular use of motor vehicle seat belts among all passengers and reduce the number of impaired driving collisions on Indiana’s roadways.

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