Mississippi dropped from number seven in 2009 to number 20 in 2010. It is the first time since records have been kept that the state has fallen out of the top-10 highest alcohol-related fatality states in the nation.
“As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen firsthand the impacts of drinking and driving,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “I appreciate the work of the Mississippi Highway Patrol and our state’s police officers and deputies for their efforts to protect motorists by reducing the number of fatalities caused by abuse of alcohol and other substances.”
The announcement came today as Governor Bryant joined officials from the Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement agencies to discuss Mississippi’s participation in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Labor Day campaign. This year is the tenth Mississippi has been involved in the federally-funded effort to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired driving.
“Our mission since the inception of the Department of Public Safety, nearly 75 years ago, has been and will remain to make our state a safer place to live and work,” Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz said.
The enforcement component of the campaign will begin August 21st and will continue through September 3rd. MHP will use $136,000 to put an additional 369 troopers on the road during the enforcement period. Advertising associated with the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign begins today and will run through August 28th.
“Even though there has been a steady decline in the number of DUI arrests, last year more than 29,500 people were charged with impaired driving. That’s an average of 81 arrests per day. Of those arrested, more than 1,800 were under the age of 21,” Assistant Public Safety Commissioner and Mississippi Highway Patrol Director Colonel Donnell Berry.”
The ranking is established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) based on 100-million vehicle miles traveled. In 2010, NHTSA reported that Mississippi had a rating of .51, compared to a .70 rating in 2009. The national average in 2010 was .45.