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States Crack Down on Drunk Drivers This Holiday Season

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- State highway safety offices are setting up sobriety checkpoints and beefing up road patrols through Monday, Jan. 2, in an effort to target drunk driving.

Member agencies of the Governors Highway Safety Association are teaming up with local police forces to identify more drivers under the influence of alcohol.

"Any person who considers drinking and driving should know that police are out in full force watching for them. The time for warnings has long passed. If you drive drunk this holiday season, there will be consequences," said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha in an association news release.

Drunk drivers claimed 415 lives in the second half of December 2010 alone, according to the release. New Year's Day is among the five deadliest days on U.S. roads, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

This year, states are also using paid ad campaigns to create awareness about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving.

In California, the Office of Traffic Safety's awareness campaign is centered around the message, "RUOK?" Their response: "If you have to ask if someone is okay to drive, then you already know the answer." The campaign also uses social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to get the word out.

In their "One Team" concept, Idaho highway safety officials are teaming up with nearby states -- Washington, Oregon and Montana -- to pool resources and coordinate enforcement efforts to ensure that even the rural areas in those states are safe from drunk drivers.

Nebraska is working with the U.S. Postal Service to display "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" posters on Postal Service vehicles in the Omaha metropolitan area.

Meanwhile, Utah's Highway Safety Office is staging a drunk driving crash at a Christmas tree lot under the banner, "Remember, drunk driving and the holidays don't mix."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on drinking and driving.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Governors Highway Safety Association, news release, Dec. 14, 2011

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