Press Release - 08-17-2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, August 17, 2021
GOVERNOR’S TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMITTEE AND ALBANY MEDICAL CENTER HOSPITAL SPOTLIGHT DANGERS OF IMPAIRED DRIVING
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Enforcement Campaign to Run from August 20 Through September 6
Fatal Impaired Driving Crashes Increased Nearly 8 Percent from 2019 to 2020
B-Roll and Sound Bites From the Event
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and Albany Medical Center Hospital today highlighted the dangers of impaired driving, in advance of the statewide STOP-DWI "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign. The New York State Police and local law enforcement will be increasing patrols to target impaired driving from August 20 through September 6. There were 378 fatal impaired driving crashes in 2019, compared to 408 fatal impaired crashes in 2020, according to preliminary data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, and far more serious injuries as a result of those avoidable crashes.
“It is no secret that driving impaired is dangerous, but far too often, drivers make the reckless choice to get behind the wheel when they are not sober,” DMV Commissioner and GTSC Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder said. “The consequences of impaired driving are almost always costly, and sometimes even deadly. It’s just not worth it. There are ample ways to get to your destination safely, especially now. Please make the right choice and have a plan.”
To kick off the education and equitable enforcement campaign, a press event was held today where first responders and Dr. Kurt Edwards, Chief of the Division of Trauma and Critical Care, Department of Surgery, Albany Medical Center Hospital, shared first-hand accounts of the tragedies caused by impaired driving.
Dr. Kurt Edwards said, “As the region’s only Level 1 trauma center, far too many times, we have seen serious injuries and fatalities resulting from the actions of an impaired driver. We care for those involved in motor vehicle crashes, not accidents. It’s no accident when you attempt to operate a motor vehicle while impaired. For your health and the health of those innocent people on and near the roadways, don’t drive while impaired.”
Throughout this campaign, law enforcement will be stepping up patrols, and the NYS Thruway Authority and State Department of Transportation will have Variable Message Signs alerting motorists to the consequences of impaired driving to help deter this dangerous behavior. During the 2020 enforcement campaign, law enforcement throughout the state arrested 3,262 people for impaired driving and issued 116,292 tickets for other vehicle and traffic law violations, such as speeding and distracted driving.
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “Each year there are needless tragedies and victims left behind because someone made the decision to drive drunk or impaired. The State Police wants everyone to enjoy the end of summer – but we also want everyone to be safe. Troopers and our local law enforcement partners will be highly visible throughout the Labor Day weekend, targeting impaired and reckless drivers. Please do your part by making the right choice, and don’t get behind the wheel if you are impaired by alcohol or drugs.”
Village of Ilion Police Chief Timothy D. Parisi, President of the NYS Association of Chiefs of Police said, "Our Association strongly supports this annual initiative. As motor vehicle crash fatalities increase, it is critically important that law enforcement remains vigilant to detect and remove impaired drivers from roadways across our State."
David Bartlett, Columbia County Sheriff and President of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association said, “Drive sober or get pulled over…it is a simple message that is easy to follow. When someone drives impaired they put themselves, their passengers, and the public at risk. The Sheriffs of New York State want you to enjoy Labor Day and the end of summer but in a smart way by having a plan to not drive impaired.”
A major component of New York's efforts to combat impaired driving is the Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated. The state's STOP-DWI program is the nation's first self-sustaining impaired driving program. The program is funded from fines paid by convicted impaired drivers. Program coordinators are comprised of diverse professional backgrounds, including law enforcement and non-law enforcement.
The STOP-DWI program was created to empower counties to coordinate local efforts to reduce alcohol and other drug-related traffic crashes. All 62 counties have opted to participate. Additionally, GTSC and STOP-DWI also remind motorists that their "Have a Plan" mobile app, is available for Apple, Android and Windows smartphones. The app enables New Yorkers to locate and call a taxi or rideshare service and program a designated driver list. To learn more, visit http://www.stopdwi.org/.
In addition to STOP-DWI, the GTSC supports training for Drug Recognition Experts. DREs are specially trained officers utilized by law enforcement when a driver appears to be impaired, but police have ruled out alcohol as the cause or sole cause of impairment. Each DRE receives extensive training that has been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Training allows officers to observe and document signs and indicators of impairment within each of seven drug categories including illicit and prescription drugs.
Combined with education and enforcement campaigns, GTSC coordinates various traffic safety activities throughout the year, and supports ongoing initiatives to improve pedestrian, motorcycle, and bicycle safety. The GTSC also sponsors critical training for law enforcement, provides resources for teen drivers and their parents, and promotes seatbelt use statewide. For more information about traffic safety in New York State, please visit the GTSC website at https://trafficsafety.ny.gov/.