A campaign involving more than 150 Kansas law enforcement agencies will target impaired drivers throughout the last 11 days of the year.
"Christmas through New Year's Day is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be on the road," said Chris Bortz, traffic safety program manager with the Kansas Department of Transportation. "Too often while celebrating over the holidays, impaired drivers get behind the wheel ... Impaired driving is no accident nor is it a victimless crime."
In 2017, 17 percent of Kansas crashes during the holiday week were alcohol-related.
Police departments will concentrate efforts from Dec. 21-31 on popular bar districts and high-volume crash locations, Bortz said.
According to Susan DeCourcy, regional administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 885 people died in December 2017 in the U.S. in wrecks involving a drunk driver.
"All of these were preventable," she said. "Remember it's never OK to drive drunk or high because if you feel different, you drive different."
Bortz urged people to plan ahead, designate a driver and use resources like ride-sharing apps.
"Every time someone gets behind the wheel impaired, it's a problem for everybody," he said. "We'd like everyone to get to their destination safely -- that's kind of the point of getting behind the wheel, is to get to your point safely. Don't let one bad decision impact the rest of your life."
Impaired driving also includes those under the influence of drugs, which is a growing problem in the state and nationally.
Kansas Highway Patrol trooper Sean Hankins said drug-impaired driving "is going way, way up," with the biggest problem being cannabis-impaired driving.
"It seems to be the drug that's always there," Hankins said.
A major factor has been the legalization of marijuana in states like Colorado.
"That's definitely affected our driving population," he said.
Hankins is a drug recognition expert with KHP, having completed field certification that enables him to render a scientific evaluation of drivers.
Other common impairments in Kansas stem from depressants like Xanax, stimulants like methamphetamine and prescription drugs like Adderall.
William Sachs, trauma medical director at Stormont Vail Health, said the medical community sees a significant statistical increase in incidents attributed to impaired driving this time of year.
"It's heartbreaking as a physician, as a surgeon, to see anybody involved in an accident," Sachs said. "But it's even more heartbreaking when we have to communicate to an individual's family and friends that they were involved in an accident that had the potential to be completely avoided."