State law enforcement, including the Ottawa Police Department, will be cracking down on impaired drivers during the Kansas Thanksgiving Safe Arrival campaign.

The enforcement campaign runs Monday through Sunday. A grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation will underwrite overtime enforcement efforts that specifically aim at removing impaired drivers from the roads and ticketing vehicle occupants who are unrestrained or whose child passengers are unrestrained.

KDOT, which tracks all crashes in the state, states the day before Thanksgiving sees more impairment-related crashes than any other day of the year. Those driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs endanger not only themselves, but also others they share the road with — such as their passengers, other motorists and their passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

On average, across Kansas, three persons are injured every day, and one person is killed every four days in alcohol/drug-related crashes; furthermore, the crashes tend to be more severe. Occupants in alcohol or other drug-related crashes are over 2.5 times more likely to be injured or killed than those involved in crashes where alcohol or other drugs were not a factor.

“Keep in mind that if you are going to be drinking — any amount at all — don’t even consider driving home,” Ottawa police Sgt. Casey Gillmore said. “Arrange to ride with a non-drinking acquaintance. Don’t let pride or concerns for your convenience endanger your life and the lives of innocent others. Drivers, always wear your seat belt and don’t move the vehicle until each person riding with you is buckled in. This is your best defense against death and injury, it is their best defense, and it is the law. You will live with the consequences — good or bad — the rest of your life. By always following these simple rules, you can preserve life — maybe your life — and certainly your cash. You can safely arrive.”

Each week across Kansas, more than 250 drivers are arrested for DUI. A DUI conviction will result in jail time, the suspension or revocation of driver’s license, a fine of $500 to $2,500, participation in an alcohol or other drug treatment program and, where alcohol is cited as a contributing factor, the purchase and installation of an ignition interlock device by the offender. This device requires the offender to blow into a device that measures blood alcohol concentration prior to starting the car. It is both embarrassing, and a hassle.

Also responsible for needless death and maiming is the failure by many teens and adults to simply buckle-up themselves, or to properly buckle-up child passengers. Twice as many Kansans who die from a crash are unrestrained as are restrained. Even worse is the fact that injuries suffered by those who are unbuckled are likely to be much more severe and disabling than injuries suffered by those who are buckled in. This applies regardless of speed, and whether the occurrence is on a city street, a county road, or a highway.