Authorities Step Up Patrols - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/31/04-East Texas

Authorities Step Up Patrols

To keep this New Year a happy one, East Texas authorities are working to prevent a dangerous combination... drinking and driving.

Officers all across East Texas will be out in force tonight. As the clock ticks toward a new year, thousands of East Texans will hit the road. The New Year's holiday is traditionally one of the most highly traveled holidays across the State, it's also one of the most dangerous.

"We do see a larger amount of motorist out during this time we do see more DWI drivers which is why we have increased enforcement," said Department of Public Safety Information Officer Trooper Jeanne Steely.

Texas leads the nation in the number of alcohol related traffic fatalities. Fortunately, those numbers are on the decline.

In 2000, there were 1,841 alcohol related traffic deaths, those made up 49% of all traffic related deaths. Last year, that number went down to 1,709 or 47% of all traffic deaths. Trooper Steely said a heavy ad campaign and an increase in patrols, have led to those declines.

"We want to make sure everybody has a safe and happy New Year's Eve and day but in order for that to take place everybody needs to be responsible for their own actions and regardless or not whether you're the DWI driver you still need to be responsible and alert for those type of behaviors going on around you."

Authorities say knowing your limit is a good idea, but choosing a designated driver who doesn't drink, is always best.

"Have some sort of plan, don't just plan for the party plan for the after party," said Steely.

A plan to keep yourself and others safe, while ringing in the New Year. In 2003, 273 people were killed on Texas roadways over the new years holiday.

Chris Gibson, reporting

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