Drunk Driving Crackdown
by: Laurie Johnson, August 22, 2006 12:08:00 am
An eight-time convicted drunk driver killed Ruth Tijerina's 27-year-old daughter. Tijerina has joined with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and local law enforcement to remind drivers of a simple rule: Drink. Drive. Go to jail.
"No one should have to go through this loss of losing a child, especially to something that's been said here: it can be prevented. If you drink, fine. Don't get drunk and don't drive drunk."
The Houston Police Department will have six or seven additional DWI police officers on the roads each night between now and Labor Day. The department received a $70,000 grant from TXDOT to pay for overtime to have those officers on patrol. TXDOT Traffic Operations Director Carlos Lopez says the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Texas went down last year.
"Despite all those reductions, 1,569 people died in Texas last year due to an alcohol-related fatality. That is 1,569 too many. And that's why we're here today, to get drunk drivers off the road and move that big old number closer to zero."
About 40 percent of all traffic accidents in Texas are alcohol-related. It's estimated that nearly 1.5 million Americans drive impaired. Ken Copeland with the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration says the problem is even more serious in Harris County.
"Even at a national level, Harris County is being recognized. And it's not in a positive light. When you look at the population of Harris County, impaired driving fatalities makes you the number one county in the nation."
With additional officers on the streets, HPD and the Harris County Sheriff's Office will focus in on areas where drunk drivers are frequently found. Stretches of 249, 1960 and 59 will be under enhanced surveillance. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.