Once again thousands of Delawareans will be hitting the road to visit family and friends and even do some after Thanksgiving shopping.
The Delaware Office of Highway Safety wants to remind motorists as they travel this holiday season to buckle up, practice patience behind the wheel, and if partaking in some holiday ‘spirits’ use a designated driver because Delaware law enforcement will be on high alert to make sure you arrive safely to your destination.
Safe Family Holiday enforcement activities over the next six weeks will include 22 law enforcement agencies statewide conducting overtime patrols focusing on aggressive and impaired driving, and seat belt use.
Overtime aggressive driving enforcement will run through Saturday, Dec. 1, and seat belt enforcement begins Sunday, Dec. 2, and runs through Dec. 15. The DUI saturation patrols will run through the entire holiday season and will supplement already scheduled Checkpoint Strikeforce DUI checkpoints.
A DUI checkpoint is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 23, in Rehoboth Beach.
Since Jan. 1 of this year, 100 people have lost their lives on Delaware roadways in 95 fatal traffic crashes, compared to 92 people killed in 87 fatal traffic crashes this time last year. Aggressive driving behaviors, including speeding, running stop signs, and not granting right of way, have contributed to 34 percent of the fatal traffic crashes so far this year. To date alcohol consumption has been involved in 38 percent of the traffic deaths, and 33 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities were individuals not wearing their seat belts.
Over the last decade, several public awareness activities have become Safe Family Holiday traditions including the OHS “Mocktail” party and the DUI Tree project. Mocktails are non-alcoholic cocktail parties, where safety information, responsible party hosting tips, and samples of smart party foods will be provided for employees. OHS's first Mocktail event this holiday season was held at State Farm Insurance in Lewes and more will be held with Seiberlich Trane, AI Dupont Hospital, Christiana Hospital, Beebe Medical Center and Dover Downs.
The DUI Tree memorializes alcohol-related deaths and injuries during the campaign period by placing colored light bulbs on the tree to represent each victim. There are four DUI trees and this year they will have a permanent home with some of the highway safety corporate partners.
The trees will be set up the week of Thanksgiving at Kent General Hospital in Dover, Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and A.I. DuPont Hospital in Wilmington. New this year OHS has created a virtual DUI Tree for the public at www.DUIRealTime.com/Safe-Holidays. Last year, two people were killed and 27 were injured in alcohol-related crashes in Delaware during the holiday season.
The Safe Family Holiday Campaign, which runs from Thanksgiving Eve to New Year’s Day, in conjunction with the Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign, is OHS’ major traffic safety initiative for the holiday season. It includes a combination of high visibility enforcement, public awareness activities, and media messaging aimed at stopping impaired and other dangerous drivers.
For more information on these or any of our other Safe Family Holiday campaign efforts follow on Twitter @DEHighwaySafe, go to www.ohs.delaware.gov, www.DUIRealTime.com/Safe-Holidays or Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ArriveAliveDE.