While police say they're always looking out for those who drive while impaired, they're stepping up efforts from now through September 7 in an end-of-summer "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.
Police agencies at the state, county and municipal levels will take part in the crackdown, which officials say has succeeded in saving lives: 30 per year over the last 10 years.
However, officials add that the danger is still very real on local roadways. The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee reports nearly a third of fatal auto accidents on state roadways involve a driver who was impaired by alcohol or drugs. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, according to the Committee, are the more likely nights to find impaired drivers on the road. Among those speaking at Thursday morning's news conference in Buffalo was Wendiann Reichmuth. The local woman was seriously injured four years ago in a head-on crash involving a driver who was high on a prescription drug at the time of the collision. Reichmuth says she is still having physical complications following that crash. She warned that people need to stop believing that DWI-related incidents cannot happen to them. Additionally, she says people need to remember that lives change forever after such incidents, even when stories covered by news media have been forgotten. "That way of thinking has to change because it does happen every day," said Reichmuth. "Yeah, it's in the newspaper, it's a quick flyby, but for the victims we live this for the rest of our lives. It's not something that can be written in the paper and thrown away the next day."
The end-of-summer crackdown discussed this morning in Buffalo takes into account the holiday that will also be going on in Canada, and the increased volume of traffic that comes with it. "We conducted a similar safety without borders initiative in July, during the Canada Day and 4th of July weekend, which resulted in 330 traffic tickets being issued," said New York State Police Major Michael Cerretto. "But not a single life was lost in our area."