Patrol launches holiday travel safety initiative

By SPECIAL TO THE SUN-SENTINEL,

JACKSON — The Mississippi Highway Patrol will kick off the 2017 Christmas travel enforcement period with a safety awareness initiative titled “Making It Home for the Holidays.”

This high-visibility safety initiative will run through the end of the year and is designed to ensure safe travel for motorists while also reminding them of their responsibilities during the busy holiday season.

The MHP 2017 Christmas travel enforcement period begins Friday, Dec. 22, at 6 p.m. and will conclude Monday, Dec. 25 at midnight.

“All available troopers will be utilized on all state, federal and interstate systems to combat reckless driving along with speeding and distracted driving issues,” said Captain Johnny Poulos, director of MHP’s Public Affairs Division. “Safety checkpoints will also be conducted throughout the period in order to enforce child restraint and seat belt laws while also removing impaired drivers.”

MHP investigated 141 crashes, including three fatalities, during the 2016 Christmas enforcement period.

“If alcohol is included in celebrations, we urge motorists to designate a sober driver or have other means of safe transportation,” noted Poulos.  “Our goal is for everyone to make it home for the holidays. In order to accomplish this, responsible decisions and safe driving should be a major part of everyone’s holiday plans.”

Mississippi Department of Transportation Executive Director Melinda McGrath agreed.

“Every holiday party begins with planning. MDOT wants the traveling public to take the same approach when it comes to holiday travel,” said McGrath. “We want to keep our roads as safe as possible this holiday season, and we cannot stress enough the importance of having a designated driver. If you plan on drinking during the holidays, always hand your keys over to someone who has not been drinking.”

Drunk driving affects thousands of people across the U.S. every year. Every day, almost 29 people die in an alcohol-impaired vehicle crash. In 2016, one person was killed in an alcohol-related crash every 50 minutes.

In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or higher. However, even small amounts of alcohol can impair a person’s ability to drive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,017 people were killed in 2016 in alcohol-related crashes where drivers were under the legal BAC limit.

Alcohol impairs thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination, which restricts a person from operating a vehicle correctly. Even though someone isn’t feeling or acting drunk, does not automatically mean this person is OK to drive. Just one drink can have significant consequences if someone decides to get behind the wheel.

Obituaries

CHARLESTON — Charley Lee Williams, age 64, passed away at his home Tuesday, April 17.