TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every day roughly 28 people die in accidents involving drivers who were under the influence or while intoxicated. That statistic equates to about one loss of life every 52 minutes.
The NHTSA promotes the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign every year from Aug. 18 to Sept. 6, encouraging citizens and law enforcement agencies to spread awareness and share resources to help prevent drunk driving incidents.
The military also supports this campaign by increasing awareness, initiating conversations and giving safety briefings to service members before the Labor Day holiday weekend.
“Thankfully, we haven’t had any alcohol-related deaths at all this year,” said Master Sgt. Pierre Convers, 325th Fighter Wing occupational safety superintendent. “We have had members caught driving under the influence, but none of those cases resulted in a death. We’ve been lucky in that regard, and we try to incorporate as much awareness as possible whenever we do safety briefings and promote programs like 0-0-1-3.”
The Department of Defense’s 0-0-1-3 program was created to continue to educate military personnel on responsible drinking practices and reinforce the consequences of drinking irresponsibly, like punitive actions that fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“People think they can get away with drinking and driving, especially for short distances,” said Staff Sgt. Brittany Dawkins, 325th FW occupational safety technician. “Even if you’re driving somewhere five minutes away, that’s plenty of time to get pulled over or get into an accident. The military can have harsher punishments than civilians for DUIs. Members can get dishonorably discharged, demotions, pay deductions, fines and even imprisonment.”
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over focuses primarily on Labor Day weekend, since that is when the NHTSA typically records a spike in DUI related deaths. According to the NHTSA, during Labor Day weekend in 2019 there was 451 car accident fatalities and nearly half of them involved drivers who were drunk or had been drinking.
Formulating a plan ahead of time can easily prevent a drinking and driving situation. A good plan should include several things that prevent someone who has been drinking from getting behind the wheel, such as a designated driver or getting picked up and dropped off.
“It really is as simple as; if you’ve had a drink, don’t drive,” Convers said. “There are so many options for folks out there to use, like ride-sharing apps, taxis, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, even their co-workers, to not get behind the wheel when they’re tipsy or drunk. It doesn’t fall on one person though, you should always be looking out for your wingmen and making sure that they’re able to get home safely.”
The NHTSA also recommends practicing responsible behavior as a host or guest, such as taking keys away from impaired drivers, arranging rides, and making sure all guests who consume alcohol leave with a sober driver or sober up before leaving.
Every installation safety office, as well as first sergeants and the Airman and Family Readiness Center, have resources and information available for anyone who needs it.
For more information on the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit nhtsa.gov/campaign/drive-sober-or-get-pulled-over.