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News Brief: GB police awarded grant to reduce impaired driving

By Friday, Jan 10, 2020 News

Police awarded grant to reduce impaired driving

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Police Department was awarded a grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Office of Grants and Research to increase the number of impaired driving patrols. The Great Barrington police will join other departments across the state as well as the Massachusetts State Police in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement mobilization.

“When an impaired driver is behind the wheel, everyone is at risk — passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists sharing the road,” said Great Barrington police Chief William Walsh. “These funds will increase the number of impaired driving patrols. Regardless of the type or level of impairment, if a driver is operating the vehicle in a dangerous manner, they will be stopped.”

“Arranging for a sober ride home before celebrating should be a part of everyone’s plans,” said Jeff Larason, director of the OGR Highway Safety Division. “We want all drivers to recognize the responsibility they have to drive safely and to avoid getting behind the wheel if they’re impaired. Remember: If you feel different, you drive different.”

Massachusetts data (2013-17):

  • Marijuana was the most prevalent drug found in drivers involved in fatal crashes.
  • 11 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes were found with both alcohol and drugs in their systems.
  • 78 percent of impaired drivers in fatal crashes were men.
  • 35 percent of drunk drivers involved in a fatal crash were 21-29 years old.
  • The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who were alcohol-impaired (blood alcohol content of .08 or above) and had drugs in their systems increased by 63 percent (35 to 57).
  • From 2016 to 2017, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities decreased by 19 percent (148 to 120).

National data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers. On average, more than 10,000 people have died each year (2013-17) in drunk-driving crashes. To put it in perspective, that’s equal to about 20 jumbo jets crashing each year with no survivors.
  • In 2017, one person was killed every 48 minutes by a drunk driver on U.S. roads.
  • In 2017, almost one in five children (age 14 and younger) killed in traffic crashes were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Fifty-four percent of the time, it was the child’s driver who was drunk.
  • Drugs were present in 43 percent of the fatally injured drivers with a known test result in 2015, more frequently than alcohol was present.
  • NHTSA’s 2013-14 roadside survey found drugs in 22 percent of all drivers both on weekend nights and on weekdays.
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol — the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects — slows reaction times, impairs cognitive performance, and makes it more difficult for a driver to keep a steady position in their lane.

Mixing alcohol and marijuana may dramatically produce effects greater than either drug on its own.

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