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County to crackdown on DUIs during holidays
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, an average of 49 people die in traffic crashes in Washington.
That’s the figure from Washington Traffic Safety Commission that took into account accidents between 2008 and 2012. The leading cause of traffic death is still drivers on the roadways driving under the influence.
Nationwide, an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 51 minutes in 2012, states a fact sheet from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Because of the huge increase of impaired drivers hitting the roadways during the holidays, between Nov. 29 and Jan. 1, extra officers will be out looking for drunk drivers. In Kitsap County, specific officers are put out to patrol for DUIs.
“Most officers are thinking every night is an emphasis patrol,” said Marsha Masters, Target Zero task force manager for Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. The force collaborates with residents, organizations and law enforcement to educate citizens on pedestrian and bicyclist safety issues as well as providing traffic safety education.
Last week Masters went to Navy bases to remind sailors to be careful on New Year’s Day and warned them not to drink and drive. Sailors also all have a plastic “Safe Ride” card that has contact information to get a ride if they are under the influence.
To drive the point home, Masters brought along with her a guest speaker who she knew would make an impact on audience members. Jessica Brooks spoke to sailors about having lost her mother due to a drunk driving accident in Poulsbo. Brooks was seven-years-old when her mother was killed by a drunk driver, and she’s now in her 20s, Masters said.
“That has just a powerful impact on the military when she speaks to them,” said Masters. “Don’t be the person that’s in the courtroom that has to face a family.”
According to statistics by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities involving alcohol-impaired-drivers increased by 4.6 percent from 2011 to last year. In 2012 alone, more than 10,000 fatalities in crashes involved a driver whose BAC was .08 or higher.
It is the hope of Masters and others in her department that the increased patrol might limit drunk drivers on the road.
Masters, who is also a volunteer for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), said she is thrilled that the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort is encouraging its patrons to drive sober.
“It’s good to seeing they’re taking responsibility and getting people to be responsible,” she said.
Better yet is the fact that MADD will receive a check for the extra effort the casino is putting forth.
This year, Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort guests are encouraged to pledge responsible drinking. Starting at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, guests who decide to be designated drivers will be given an opportunity to sign a Clearly Responsible Celebrating pledge card. For every signed and returned card, the casino vows to donate $50 to the Kitsap County Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), up to $1,500.
“We are excited about implementing a program that encourages all our guests to celebrate responsibly. Last year was so successful, we were given the approval to make it an annual offering,” said Chris Archunde, Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort marketing director.
This is the third year the casino is participating in raising funds for MADD, which in the past has given a check to the organization for $1,500 to go toward awareness costs.
“They can party and party. They (casino staff) check them to make sure they’re sober,” Masters said of the program.
To avoid driving home after indulging too much, Masters suggests that partygoers plan ahead to make the evening go smoothly.
“Make your plan now for what you’re gonna do,” she said. “Once you start drinking, that plan goes out the door.”
To purchase a gift card for a “safe lift” for yourself or a loved one, visit wadrivetozero.com to purchase a designated driver gift card.
Kitsap County Area Taxi Companies
Best Darn Cab: 360-782-2378
Bumble Bee Taxi: 360-782-1966
Brian's Taxi: 360-649-2644
Bremerton Taxi: 360-621-2943
Safe Ride: 888-SUB-4789