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Front Page » May 20, 2008 » Local News » State, local officials promote safe driving
Published 2,347 days ago

State, local officials promote safe driving


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By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate community editor


The 'Every 15 Minutes' exercise at Carbon High reminds residents of the dangers inherent with teen drinking and driving. Officials caution motorists to drive safely during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, state and local officials remind Carbon County motorists to use safe driving practices during the busy holiday weekend.

To combat the problems that stem from underage drinking and driving the Utah Department of Public Safety's Highway Safety Office is continuing their alcohol program through the support of prevention, education and high visibility enforcement programs, continues to sustain a reduced trend in alcohol-related fatality and serious injury rate.

The program provides overtime shift funding for law enforcement to conduct high visibility driving under the influence enforcement, mobilizations and impaired driving media campaigns. It also provides funds for high school and college campus programs for alcohol and drug prevention. The UHSO offers specialized and updated training for law enforcement officers for youth alcohol enforcement.

The UHSO continues collaborative efforts with safety and prevention partners to educate children and adults in the community regarding the dangers of impaired driving and underage drinking.

In 2006, there were 14,384 DUI arrests, up from 14,074 in 2004. Of the 2006 arrests, 11,342 were men and 3,023 were women.

Additionally in 2006 there were 892 "not a drop" DUI arrests for youth offenders under the age of 21.

To combat the problem of youth drinking the state has started the EASY program aimed at stopping the sale of alcohol to underage minors before they have a chance to drink and get behind the wheel.

Underage drinking statistics show that youth primarily obtain alcohol from adults and friends. They also purchase from commercial outlets such as convenience and grocery stores. The latest research shows that not only is underage drinking a problem because of DUI and highway safety but it has been confirmed that alcohol affects the brain of a teen much differently than that of an adult.

According to the UHSO, research shows that 40 percent of those who start drinking before the age of 15 will become alcohol dependent.

According to safety officials drowsy driving is every bit as dangerous as impaired driving in many cases.

The zero fatalities program has outlined several tips aimed at curbing drowsy driving including:

•Go bland before bedtime, to fall asleep quickly, avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for at least four hours before going to bed.

•Be predictable, go to bed around the same time every night and try to follow a similar routine.

•Don't toss and turn, when sleeping is a problem get out of bed and do something for a few minutes before trying to sleep again.

•Save the bed for sleep, avoid paying bills, reading the paper or watching television in bed.

•Take a bath, when the body gets ready for sleep a person's temperature drops. A bath may nudge the bed time bio-chemistry along.

•Get dark, people usually sleep best in a cool, dark environment. Invest in heavy drapes if there is light coming through the windows from outside.

A full list of tips is available at sleepsmartdrivesmart.com.

Officials have also noticed that distracted driving becomes more of a problem every year with more and more electronics making their way into automobiles.

Driving safely can be challenging enough, according to zerofatalities.com, even when a driver is paying attention to the road and potential hazards. Distracted driving occurs when someone is focused on anything other than driving.

Anything that takes the driver's attention off the road is a distraction. Some common distractions include eating, reading, drinking, changing, changing a compact disc, talking or texting on a cell phone, applying makeup, reaching for something away from the roadway.

For some youth drivers, some common distractions include driving and/or riding with friends or yelling out the window.

Some tips for staying focused include:

•Focus on driving.

•Have a passenger do the other activities of answering the cell phone, changing the CD, ect.

•The safest time to use a cell in the car is when the destination has been reached or the vehicle is stopped.

•Make adjustments to the vehicles mirrors, air conditioning, ect., before hitting the road or while the vehicle is not moving.





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