It's been a historic year for deaths on Austin roadways, and more than half of those have been DWI related. With two more weeks still left to go in the year, local law enforcement agencies are working extra to try to help that number not increase.
“This year is sadly proving to be one of the bloodiest in many, many years,” said Chief Art Acevedo of the Austin Police Department.
APD along with other local law enforcement agencies said they have one wish this holiday season, not to lose another life on Central Texas roads. “Not one more person ends up in intensive care, not one person ends up in the morgue, not one person ends up in jail for making poor choices like drinking and driving,” Chief Acevedo said.
Starting Friday, more than 25 local agencies will be participating in the “Arrive Alive Central Texas 5th Collaborative Home for the Holidays Traffic Safety Initiative and DWI Enforcement Initiative.” Officers will be starting extra patrols, as well as a DWI no refusal. “That means if you get arrested for DWI in the city of Austin, we will get the evidence, we will get what we need to bring you to justice and to get a conviction,” Chief Acevedo said,
Last year the campaign resulted in more than 32,000 traffic stops. Chief Acevedo said “Combined operations in 2014 resulted in a 22% reduction in serious injury and fatal crashes in Austin.”
They're are asking people to make smart choices moving in to the holiday season about driving impaired, or intoxicated, as well as watching out for others. Lt. Blake Johnson works in the DWI Department at APD, “The calling also goes out to the people who are at these functions or parties or whatever they might be, who are beside somebody who is possibly about to make a bad decision and get behind the wheel. Rather than turning a blind eye, stopping them from doing that before it starts,” he said,
APD said Texas leads the nation in the number of deadly crashes and Austin leads the nation as the city that consumes the most alcohol. Chief Acevedo said if people would stop making bad choices in terms of drinking and driving, and wear seatbelts, it could be a huge step in saving lives, “Safety starts with people realizing that when they get behind the wheel, they are in fact controlling a deadly weapon that unless they are driving it appropriately they are putting themselves, their loved ones, their neighbors, their friends, and the strangers they may never meet at risk and they are at risk of losing their lives or losing their liberty by ending up in jail.”
Last year, the “Arrive Alive” holiday campaign was more of a weekend endeavor, this year they have extended it to more than two weeks. The holiday initiative kicks off Thursday, December 24th and goes through Sunday, December 27th. The DWI initiative starts Friday, December 18th and goes through January 3rd.