A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Americans traveling in record numbers this holiday season; ‘Drive sober or get pulled over’

Kentucky Today

A record number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season and drivers are being urged to be careful and not drink and drive.
AAA predicts 107.3 million Americans will take to planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation during the year-end holiday period from Saturday through Jan. 1.

It’s the highest year-end travel volume on record and a 3.1 percent increase in travel volume compared with last year.

For the 97.4 million Americans finishing the year with a road trip, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, in collaboration with AAA, predicts travel times during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the normal trip.

AAA said to avoid traveling through major cities during peak travel times.  The best times to leave are typically early morning or after the morning commute.  If your schedule permits, traveling on the holiday itself often results in fewer cars on the road.

In Kentucky, the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is in full swing and continues through New Year’s Day.

“While the holiday season is a special time to visit with friends and family, many of these celebrations include alcohol,” said Kentucky Office of Highway Safety Executive Director Dr. Noelle Hunter. “Drunken driving-related crashes are 100-percent preventable.  It just makes sense to plan for a designated driver before the party begins.”

Images of Santa with the slogan “He sees you when you’re drinking” are at gas stations and bars/restaurants in more than 60 cities throughout the state with higher-than-average drunken driving-related crashes. Additionally, mirror clings of jail bars are in various bars and restaurants, reflecting to potential offenders their arrested image behind bars.

The Highway Safety office distributes federal grant money provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to increase law enforcement presence during designated holiday periods.  According to the federal agency, high-visibility enforcement like the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign reduces impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.

“While we always patrol for impaired drivers, we’ll have extra troopers on the road as motorists travel to and from their Christmas and New Year’s celebrations,” said Kentucky State Police Lt. Michael Webb.

“Make no mistake — our message is simple.  If you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested. Please, make a plan for a designated driver before the party starts.”

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety said 25 drunken driving deaths and 327 injuries occurred during Christmas and New Year’s over the last five years. 

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