BREMEN — Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, and state and local police are beefing up their presence on roads.
AAA is predicting 54.6 million people will be heading out for the holiday. Of those, nearly 49 million will be traveling by car, a rebound to almost pre-pandemic levels. This time of year is also associated with higher drinking rates, which, combined with the sheer number of drivers on the road, makes it an especially dangerous time for motorists.
To prevent crashes, the Kosciusko County Traffic Safety Partnership and Indiana State Police Bremen Post will be ramping up enforcement as part of the Safe Family Travel campaign. Starting this week, officers will be out in greater numbers conducting saturation patrols designed to discourage impaired driving and promote seat belt use.
“We’re not telling people they can’t drink. We’re asking people to be responsible and to not drink and drive,” Craig Allebach, Kosciusko County Traffic Safety Partnership Grant Administrator. “The holidays shouldn’t be marked by tragedy, so don’t ruin your life or the life of someone else by getting behind the wheel impaired. You will be held accountable if you do.”
The extra high-visibility enforcement is funded with grants provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
According to NHTSA, drunk driving and fatal crashes spike during the Thanksgiving holiday season. This can be attributed, in part, to cultural phenomena like “Blackout Wednesday” or “Drinksgiving,” an event synonymous with heavy alcohol consumption. This year’s holiday also comes at a time when fatal crashes and dangerous driving are up across the state and nation.
In Indiana, 932 people lost their lives on the road last year, a 4% increase from 2020. Of those fatalities, 12 occurred during the Thanksgiving holiday season, with more than half (seven) found unbuckled at the time of the crash.
On average, approximately one-fourth of the state’s traffic fatalities are caused by drunk drivers.
“Impaired driving is life-threatening, but even more so around the holidays,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety director. “With so many ride options available, there’s no reason that should be the case. We’re asking everyone to plan accordingly and to make safety a priority. Our goal is zero fatalities this year.”
With officers on high-alert, motorists are encouraged to plan ahead to get home safely by designating a sober driver or by using public transportation or a ride service like Uber or Lyft. Even if one drink is consumed, never drive impaired or let friends get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking.
Motorists are encouraged to contact the department or call 911 if they encounter an impaired or unsafe driver on the road.