Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine announced the start of the Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign, a statewide initiative to raise public awareness about drunk driving. The kick-off of the five-month, million-dollar campaign comes before the Labor Day weekend, historically the third deadliest DUI holiday of the year.
Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign includes stepped-up use of sobriety checkpoints, as well as advertising and other outreach efforts as part of a $1,000,000 effort to remind citizens of the dangers and consequences of impaired driving. Throughout the next several months, nearly 25,000 radio and television spots will run throughout the Commonwealth. The campaign is supported locally by a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
“While every death is a tragedy, the decline in drunken driving fatalities underscores the effectiveness of efforts such as Virginia’s Checkpoint Strikeforce,” Kaine said. “The fight to eliminate these senseless fatalities and injuries is far from over, and we continue to work on strategies to educate drivers about the legal and other consequences if they fail to act responsibly.”
Throughout the rest of this year, Virginia law enforcement agencies will hold a minimum of one sobriety checkpoint a week across the state. Studies performed for the Arlington-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that sobriety checkpoints can reduce alcohol-related crashes by as much as 20-percent.
Recent data indicates that Virginia is making strides in combating drinking and driving through tougher penalties and outreach initiatives such as Checkpoint Strikeforce. In 2005, 28,070 individuals were convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia – or an average of one person every 19 minutes. In the same year, Virginia recorded 322 fatalities and 7,512 injuries in alcohol-related crashes, a third consecutive year of declining fatalities and injuries. Further, since Checkpoint Strikeforce’s inception in 2002, there have been decreases of more than 14% in DUI-related fatalities and more than 11% in DUI-related injuries. Among the teen population (ages 15-19), the results have been even more substantial, with alcohol-related traffic fatalities and injuries in this group decreasing by nearly 28-percent and 26-percent, respectively, since 2002.
A July 2006 public opinion survey of 700 Virginia drivers conducted for Checkpoint Strikeforce by the Richmond-based polling firm MWR Strategies, found that 89-percent of drivers support the anti-DUI initiative. Moreover, half of the Virginia drivers perceive drunk drivers as a dangerous threat, with 61% saying drunk drivers are among the most serious dangers they face on the road.
To sample the ads and get more information, visit the Washington Regional Alcohol Program Web site at www.wrap.org/checkpoint.html
Source: Office of Virginia Governor Kaine
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