Law enforcement officers from more than 250 agencies across the state will work thousands of overtime hours as part of the enforcement blitz of the federally funded program, "Safe Family Travel" Operation Pull Over.
Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton told The Brazil Times most of the full-time deputies at the department would be participating at the local level during the blitz period from Nov. 14-30 on their days off.
"Traditionally, Thanksgiving is one of the most heavily traveled times of the year and this year will be no exception," Heaton said. "Officers will especially be looking to enforce speed laws while looking for seat belt violations and impaired drivers."
The holiday is a great time to celebrate with family and friends, but officials urge people to be responsible and not get behind the wheel of a vehicle if impaired in any way.
According to information provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, in 2007, 20 percent of all fatal collisions were speed related. And during the 2007 Thanksgiving holiday period alone, 20 percent of the fatalities reported were alcohol related and 50 percent of the victims were either not wearing a seatbelt or it was unfastened.
"With each enforcement effort, we must take a proactive approach toward improving traffic safety," Heaton said. "The goal is never to write tickets, but to save lives by deterring impaired and dangerous driving behaviors through high-visibility enforcement."
Heaton said it does help when motorists take the time to pull over and report to authorities the impaired drivers they see while traveling.
As a way to promote this type of input, Heaton said CCSD has created its own "fresh" initiative.
"Anyone who is not impaired that is pulled over for some type of a traffic violation will be given an air-freshener to hang from the rear-view mirror by our deputy," he said. "It has the department's contact information and hopefully will serve as a reminder to the driver to stay alert and be aware of impaired drivers."
During the Thanksgiving holiday time period of Nov. 17-25, 2007, CCSD confirmed 15 traffic accidents were reported in Clay County. One accident involved a fatality, one person was injured in a separate accident and the remaining 13 accidents involved property damage (10 of which involved deer/vehicle).
Heaton urges motorists who choose to travel at night to use caution and keep track of the weather forecasts.
"In addition to being mindful of nighttime hazards, we also want to encourage motorists to stay alert and be aware of unforeseen weather and road conditions that can literally change over night during this time of year," Heaton said. "Many people will travel long distances to visit with family and friends during this time and Indiana law enforcement officers are committed to making sure they reach their destinations safely."