Traditionally, one of the first signs of spring is the sight of blooming flowers and buds, but the first day of spring this year brought something special: the blossoming of a promising new road safety partnership among DOT, the International Chiefs of Police Association, and state police and highway patrol officers from more than 40 states.
The Drive To Save Lives is a united effort to reduce highway fatalities by 15 percent in 2014.
State police and highway patrol leaders from the IACP Division of State and Provincial Police will lead a sustained, data-driven effort over the course of the year focused on increasing the use of seat-belts, reducing speeding, and targeting impaired and distracted driving. The campaign will also include enforcement actions against unsafe driving of commercial motor vehicle operators.
DOT is proud to join the IACP and law enforcement across the country in this education, awareness, and high-visibility traffic enforcement initiative to change high-risk behaviors that --all too often-- lead to crashes.
As IACP President Chief Yousry "Yost" Zakhary of Woodway, Texas, said:
"During my 34 years as a law enforcement officer, I have responded to far too many crashes caused by speeding and witnessed too many deaths because drivers and/or passengers were not wearing their seatbelts, and because of impaired and distracted driving. Crashes are preventable -- and that is what this campaign aims to do. Prevent them from occurring in the first place. Through our partnership, we will work to reduce highway deaths in 2014, and the coming years, because even one death is too many."
Chief Zakhary is exactly right; most of 33,561 deaths on our nation's roads last year were entirely preventable. Many of them involved drunk driving, people not wearing seatbelts, excessive speeding, and driving distracted. I also want to remind readers that 46 of those fatalities were law enforcement officers killed on our roadways while working to protect our safety.
That's why we're pleased to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police and we stand ready to do our part to help them achieve their ambitious-but-attainable safety goal.
Now, it's time for you to do your part. Please, avoid these high-risk behaviors, and urge your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to do the same.