BEAVERCREEK — Driving sober doesn’t just refer to alcohol — it means drugs, too, according to partners supporting the newly-launched Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.
Greene County Safe Communities Coalition kicked off their campaign at the Beavercreek AAA, 3321 Dayton Xenia Road Aug. 24, just ahead of the Labor Day weekend.
Surrounded by local law enforcement and community officials, Cindy Antrican, AAA Manager of Public and Government Affairs, and Lt. Matt Schmenk, Ohio State Highway Patrol Xenia Post Commander, said that the campaign aims to spread awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence.
“The message that we want to get out there is that obviously, we have a massive problem in the United States,” Schmenk said at the press conference.
According to Schmenk, Greene County had eight fatal alcohol-related crashes in 2016 leading to nine deaths. So far this year has seen one alcohol-related fatal crash with two deaths.
Schmenk said he’d like to credit the lower numbers to constant education and proactive enforcement, but he admitted that there is always work to be done.
“We’re all out there for one common goal: that’s to help take care of the good people in Greene County that are doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “We put the messages out there for a reason because we want people to get home safely from their place of work, wherever they’re coming from. We want their families to be safe, we don’t want people driving impaired.”
Antrican reiterated the message, stating that AAA’s mission has always remained the same.
“We ask people to protect everyone on the road. That could be your mother, sister, brother,” she said. “Once you consume alcohol, your judgment is impaired. Make a good choice before you take a first drink.”
Extra patrols will be out on the roadway during the Friday-Monday, Sept. 1-4 holiday reporting period, according to Schmenk.
The campaign not only aims to end drunk driving, but also drug-impaired driving, the two said.
According to Antrican, the increase in drug-impaired driving is hitting the county and every community.
“When we say drive sober, it doesn’t just mean alcohol. We’re asking drivers to please, please drive sober — no alcohol, no drugs,” Antrican said.
Antrican stated that what is especially dangerous about drug-impaired driving is the fact that officers are now seeing these crashes and OVI arrests happen during the day just as much as at night. She referred to the usual morning commute to work, beginning around 9 a.m., as “Heroin Rush Hour.”
Drivers can protect themselves and others by always wearing their safety belt, using defensive driving skills, eliminating distractions like cell phones and driving sober, Antrican and Schmenk said.
Greene County Safe Communities recommends safe alternatives to drinking and driving:
• Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get home safely.
• Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app available on Google Play for Android devices. SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
• Call for services such as an Uber, Lyft or other taxi service near you.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local police department.
• Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.