Three people have lost their lives as a result of traffic accidents on DeKalb County roads this year and local and state authorities will be working through the holidays to make sure that number does not increase. There were seven fatalities in DeKalb County last year.
On Sunday, January 10th, 47 year old Lisa A. Hallmon of Avant Circle, Alexandria died when her 1988 Cadillac struck a DeKalb County garbage truck on Highway 70 near Sligo bridge.
On Wednesday, September 15th, 44 year old Priscilla Judkins was a passenger of a Dodge Caravan that crashed on East Broad Street in Smithville. She later died at Vanderbilt Hospital. The driver of the vehicle was Donald Henson. Smithville Police said Henson rear-ended an eastbound 1994 Toyota pickup truck that was stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of Broad Street and South Mountain Street. After crashing into the truck, Henson left the scene and turned into the parking lot of Curves where he came to a stop after trying to the drive the vehicle up an embankment.
On Monday, November 29th, 63 year old Wanda K. Harrison of Dowelltown was involved in a head-on crash on West Broad Street near DCHS. Harrison was in a 2009 Honda SUV traveling west when her vehicle veered into a 1994 Chevy pickup. Harrison died later at Vanderbilt Hospital.
The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department will be conducting sobriety checkpoints and saturated patrols at various times through January 2nd targeting drunk drivers on State Highway 146, U.S. 70 east and west, State Highway 56 north and south, State Highway 53 in Liberty and Alexandria, and State Highway 96 on Dale Ridge.
Meanwhile in conjunction with the National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be cranking up its enforcement effort throughout the upcoming Christmas and New Year's Day celebrations to find and remove impaired drivers from Tennessee roadways. State Troopers will be conducting more than 100 sobriety and driver license checkpoints with a clear message to motorists – "Don't Wreck the Holidays."
The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting sobriety checkpoints in DeKalb County on Friday, December 31st on State Route 53 north .2 miles north of the 4 mile marker and on Highway 56 south at DeKalb Memorial Gardens.
THP is also participating in the national campaign, Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. "The Highway Patrol will be working with law enforcement officers from hundreds of agencies across the state and country to remove impaired drivers from the road," Department of Safety Commissioner Dave Mitchell said. "It is our duty to ensure the public's safety through education, regulation and especially enforcement; we take this responsibility seriously on holidays and all throughout the year."
The 2010 Christmas holiday period begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 23, and runs through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 26, while this year's New Year's holiday period will commence at 6 p.m., Thursday, December 30, and will conclude at 11:59 p.m., Sunday, January 2, 2011.
The holiday season is one of the deadliest and most dangerous times of the year due to an increase in impaired driving. In 2009, 303 people died in Tennessee traffic crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. That's a one percent decline from the 306 impaired driving deaths in 2008, and a 19.6% decline from the 377 impaired driving deaths in 2007. Nationwide, impaired driving fatalities dropped from 11,711 in 2008 to 10,839 in 2009, a 7.4 percent decline.
"While the number of impaired driving fatalities has declined both nationwide and in Tennessee, that's not enough," said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. "We will not rest…we will not stop working until drunk driving fatalities become non-existent. Our Troopers will spare no expense to keep drunk drivers off the road en route to saving lives this holiday season. If we catch you, we will arrest you."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that in December 2009, 753 people nationwide were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. That was down from 888 people killed in similar impaired driving crashes in 2008.
During the 2009 Christmas holiday period, six people were killed in traffic crashes on Tennessee roadways. This represents one death every 17 hours. Alcohol was involved in 33 percent of those crashes and one of the five vehicle occupants killed was not wearing a safety restraint.
Thirteen people were killed during last year's New Year's holiday period 2009-10 and 23 percent of the fatalities occurred in alcohol-related crashes.
In 2009, there were 989 traffic fatalities in Tennessee, down just over five percent from 1,043 fatalities in 2008. As of December 16, preliminary statistics indicate that 996 people have died on Tennessee roadways this year, an increase of 48 deaths (9 percent) compared to 948 fatalities at this same time a year ago.
If you are planning to drink alcohol with family and friends, there are several simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or trauma and the financial costs associated with an impaired driving arrest.
·Plan ahead: Whenever you plan on consuming alcohol, designate your sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
·If you're impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
·Wearing your seat belt or using protective gear when on your motorcycle is your best defense against an impaired driver.
·And remember, "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk". If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
·Violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses from attorney fees, other fines and court costs, towing and repairs, lost time at work, etc.
For more information, please visit www.StopImpairedDriving.org .