Feb. 26—Indiana State Police Peru Post says troopers will be cracking down on dangerous and impaired driving in March as part of a statewide enforcement campaign.
Troopers will be conducting high-visibility patrols looking for those driving aggressively, over the speed limit or under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
The campaign starts Monday and concludes on March 21. That timeframe includes St. Patrick's Day and the NCAA Tournament, which is being held in Indianapolis this year due to the pandemic.
The overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and disbursed through a grant by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).
According to NHTSA, drunken driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year in the United States. Although 2020 was a unique year due to the pandemic, preliminary data from the federal safety agency shows that miles traveled decreased by about 14.5% in the first nine months, while overall traffic fatalities increased by 4.6% nationwide.
A separate report released from NHTSA revealed that more road users engaged in risky behaviors in 2020 such as speeding or driving under the influence, and that fewer motorists wore seat belts.
Despite having fewer drivers on the road in Indiana, 2020 was the third highest year for traffic fatalities in the past decade, with 850 road deaths, according to the ICJI.
"We're seeing an uptick in dangerous driving during the pandemic, and it's very concerning," Devon McDonald, ICJI executive director, said. "That's why we're pulling out all the stops this March to reverse that trend and encourage safe driving behavior. Preventing loss of life is our top priority."
Dangerous driving also includes such factors as speeding, tailgating and disregarding a traffic signal. To avoid tickets or criminal charges, state police recommend following these simple steps:
* Slow down and follow all posted speed limits.
* Do not tailgate or drive aggressively.
* Put down the phone and avoid distracted driving.
* Buckle up every trip, every time.
* Never drive impaired. If you plan on drinking, plan for a safe, sober ride home.