Meridian Star

September 7, 2013

Agencies release Labor Day safety blitz numbers

By Brian Livingston /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Law enforcement officials are encouraged after reviewing the numbers compiled during the recent Labor Day safety blitz that targeted impaired drivers on the roadways on the local and state levels.

    Sgt. Andy West, public affairs officer for Troop H of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, said the numbers seemed to suggest, at least in the district Troop H is responsible for, that motorists are getting the message that driving impaired will not be tolerated.

    "We are very pleased with the numbers we have after this latest campaign," said West of the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" initiative. "The encouraging numbers seem to suggest that proactive and aggressive enforcement, coupled with the driving public becoming more educated and aware of the dangers of driving while impaired, is paying off in terms of saving lives."

    Paramount among the numbers, according to West, is the fact no one lost their lives in the Troop H District that encompasses Clarke, Jasper, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Neshoba, Newton, Scott, and Smith counties.

    "There were four fatalities statewide but we had none in our district so we are happy to see that big zero in that column," West said.

    Other numbers collected during the period include 5,995 total tickets issued statewide to motorists. There were 163 DUI arrests across the Magnolia State, with Troop H only noting 10. There were 135 traffic accidents with the aforementioned four deaths and another 51 injuries. In Troop H, West said there were nine traffic accidents and seven injuries. West said there were also 13 drug arrests made in the state during the holiday period.

    On the more local level, Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department Chief Dep. Ward Calhoun said it appeared by the latest stats local motorists were heeding the message of driving sober.

    "We conducted our blitz from August 16 through midnight on Labor Day so that was a long time and we are pleased we recorded no traffic deaths and few DUI arrests," Calhoun said. "We strongly urge everyone to continue to exhibit good driving practices not only during the holidays but all year."

    Calhoun said the LCSD registered 19 DUI arrests during the safety campaign. He said eight fugitives from justice were taken into custody as well as four felony arrests and two drug related arrests. Calhoun said a total of 421 citations were issued for seatbelt violations, child restraint, careless driving and other traffic related offenses.