Meridian Star

Local News

November 27, 2013

LCSD to increase safety checkpoints

MERIDIAN — By Brian Livingston

blivingston@themeridianstar.com

    The goal of deputies with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department this holiday season is the same as in previous years — no one dies from impaired drivers.

    "We didn't have any during Thanksgiving or Christmas last year," said John Calhoun, commander of the LCSD's Patrol Division. "I hope we don't have any this year either."

    LCSD Chief Dep. Ward Calhoun said deputies will be conducting safety checkpoints starting now and continuing through the New Year holiday. He said the ongoing effort of the sheriff's department is to make sure everyone gets to their destinations safely and make it back home safely as well.

    "We are all husbands and fathers and the last thing we want to see is someone hurt or killed in a traffic accident, especially during the holiday seasons," Ward Calhoun said. "In order for us to do our part we have to maintain a constant presence out there on the roads of this county. If we make you a little late for your appointment or party, remember, we are trying to make the roads safer for you and your family."

    Seat belt usage will a major point of interest for deputies as will impaired drivers. Drivers are considered to be alcohol-impaired when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher, John Calhoun said. Thus, any fatal crash involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher is considered to be an alcohol- impaired-driving crash, and fatalities occurring in those crashes are considered to be alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities.

    According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011, 9,878 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes across the nation. These alcohol- impaired-driving fatalities accounted for 31 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States. Traffic fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes decreased by 2.5 percent from 10,136 in 2010 to 9,878 in 2011. An average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 53 minutes in 2011, said the NHTSA.

    "As with any crash, wearing seat belts will greatly improve everyone's chances to survive a crash," Ward Calhoun said. "We will be looking at seat belt use, the correct use of child safety seats, and of course, impaired driving whether that be from alcohol or illegal drugs."

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