As tens of thousands of Californians plan to celebrate the Labor Day weekend with outdoor activities this weekend, they are encouraged to have a plan in place prior to any celebrations involving alcohol by designating a sober driver.
ABC agents will be on duty statewide to increase safety by checking up on ABC licensed businesses and some large community events. “We’ll have agents on duty this weekend who will try to prevent underage drinking and over service to intoxicated patrons. We are also asking alcoholic beverage licensees to be vigilant when checking identifications to reduce underage youth access to alcohol,” said ABC Director Ramona Prieto.
ABC will be working along with the California Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies to make the holiday weekend as safe as possible. Much of the funding for law enforcement overtime is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to help reduce the number of people who might drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The law enforcement effort is critical considering new national figures out this week show that over 35,000 people died in traffic crashes during 2015, that is an increase of 2,348 deaths over the previous year. The increase in fatalities ends a five decade trend of declining fatalities.
Ten years ago, the number of traffic deaths was nearly 25% higher, with 42,708 fatalities reported nationwide in 2005. Since then, safety programs have helped lower the number of deaths by increasing seat belt use and reducing impaired driving. Vehicle improvements, including air bags and electronic stability control, have also contributed to reducing traffic fatalities.
In response to the increase, the Department of Transportation (DOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the White House are issuing an unprecedented call to action to involve a wide range of stakeholders in helping determine the causes of the increase. NHTSA will share its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) with safety partners, state and local officials, technologists, data scientists, and policy experts. Additionally, private sector partners using new data collection technologies will be offering access to unprecedented amounts of data and new visualizations tools to further assist in analysis of FARS information. “The data tells us that people die when they drive drunk, distracted, or drowsy, or if they are speeding or unbuckled,” said NHTSA Administrator, Dr. Mark Rosekind. “While there have been enormous improvements in many of these areas, we need to find new solutions to end traffic fatalities.”