As Arkansans begin looking forward to plans of a final summer getaway, law enforcement officers are preparing to saturate the highways with additional patrols staring Friday and continuing through the Labor Day holiday.

The mission is to keep streets and highways safe by identifying and arresting drunk drivers.

Arkansas State Troopers, sheriff’s deputies and city police officers will be unified during the operation designed to arrest drunk drivers.

Lives lost in highway crashes across the nation involving alcohol impaired drivers during 2019 totaled 10,142, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). On average, more than 10,000 people were killed in drunk driving crashes each year from 2015 to 2019.

“The statistics left behind from these deaths each year represent thousands of sad and troubling stories from the families of each victim,” said Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police and Governor’s Highway Safety Representative, in a statement released on Monday. “That’s why law enforcement agencies in Arkansas are working together with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, but also a matter of life and death for those who count on us to keep the highways safe by arresting drunk drivers.”

The Arkansas Highway Safety Office and NHTSA are reminding everyone of the many resources available to get them home safely and offer these tips:

If you plan on drinking, plan not to drive.

Plan a safe way home before you leave. It’s never okay to drink and drive, even if the driver has consumed only one alcoholic beverage.

Designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get to your destination safely.

If you’ve been drinking, call a taxi or someone who is sober to drive you home.

If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1.

If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle or any other vehicle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.

Buckle up, always. Your seat belt is your best defense against the drunk driver.

“We need the commitment from communities and citizens to work with law enforcement every day and help keep the streets and highways safe for everyone,” Bryant said.

For more information on impaired driving, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk -driving or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.

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