A couple weeks ago we brought you the story of a family affected by a drunk driver.
On December 14th, law enforcement agencies across the state launched the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign.
So far this year, our state has seen 101 vehicle fatalities. 31 of those were alcohol related.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranks North Dakota as the state with the third highest rate of impaired driving fatalities in the US. We’re only behind South Carolina and Wyoming, which has the highest rate.
North Dakota Highway Patrol Officer Sgt. Wade Kadrmas says drinking is embedded in our state culture, which is a big part of the DUI problem.
The North Dakota Hwy Patrol Officer explains, “Impaired driving can be anything from alcohol, drug impaired, whether it’s illegal drugs or prescription medications.”
He says the Highway Patrol has been focusing on stopping drivers that are endangering themselves and others by speeding, running through red lights or stop signs, and not wearing seatbelts. That’s when they discover, many were actually under the influence.
Bismarck resident Dorothy Schneider adds, “Sometimes there’s people that you wonder, you know? Speeding is a thing I see a lot too.”
One local says she’s often nervous to be out on the road.
Another Bismarck resident Frances Goetz shares, “In fact, I had a really close call Christmas Eve on State Street and 43rd Street. I had the Right-of-Way, the arrow was green and somebody came from the east, and I stepped on my brakes really fast. But it just scared me.”
Sgt. Kadrmas says, “The campaign, I feel, is more for the public, so they understand we’re out there day-after-day looking for impaired drivers.”
He says year after year, the number of alcohol related traffic fatalities sits around 45 to 50 percent, which he says is much too high. That’s why you’re seeing more officers on the road since mid-December.
Vision Zero and the North Dakota Department of Transportation will be offering ten dollars off your Lyft ride. It’s going on now, and runs through New Year’s Eve from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., for the first 1,000 Lyft riders across the state. Use the code “VisionZeroND”.
This is part of the Vision Zero strategy to give an easy alternative to those who have been drinking alcohol to get home safely.