By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District
Labor Day weekend is less than three weeks away. While for many of us this is the last opportunity to enjoy a Pure Michigan summer before the fall routine sets in, it also represents one of the deadliest times of the year for drunken driving fatalities.
Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce these deaths by as much as 20 percent. That is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is once again partnering with law enforcement nationwide during the 2017 “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
The initiative runs from Aug. 16 through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Local law enforcement agencies across Michigan will team up with state agencies and NHTSA to step up enforcement of drunken driving laws.
Drunken driving remains a serious safety epidemic nationwide and here in Michigan. Last year, more than 38 percent of the fatal crashes statewide involved alcohol and/or drugs.
Every day, almost 300,000 people drive drunk. In 2012, 29.1 million people — more than the population of Texas — admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.
This is not just reckless behavior. It is criminal and deadly. It results on average in the deaths of 10,000 people nationwide each year. About one in five of these fatalities will be children 14 and younger.
These somber statistics should remind us all that it is never ok to drink and drive. If you’ve been drinking, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get home safely.
NHTSA has created the SaferRide mobile app available on Google Play and Apple’s iTunes Store. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and it identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
There is no excuse for driving under the influence. During this year’s campaign — and year-round — remember: Drive sober, or get pulled over.
For more information about the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign or to download the SaferRide app, visit nhtsa.gov/drivesober.
This column first appeared in the Spinal Column newsweekly. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.