The Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department will have extra patrols on the roads to enforce drunken driving laws New Year’s Eve.
“Our purpose is to encourage everybody to have a safe New Year’s Eve,” Sheriff Brad Hardel said.
Hardel hopes that having more officers on the roads will cut the number of alcohol-related fatalities.
In 2008, three of the seven traffic fatalities were due to alcohol. In 2009, the number of fatalities remained at seven, but only one of the deaths was alcohol-related.
Waupaca County deputies issued 163 citations for operating while intoxicated in 2008 and 178 OWI citations in 2009.
In the Waupaca area, Waupaca Taxi will be operating all night Friday, Dec. 31, until 2:30 a.m. New Year’s Day. The taxi can be reached at 715-258-2880.
Hardel said officers will also be looking for seat belt violations over the holidays.
Statewide, a Booze and Belts campaign has been conducted to encourage seat belt use and discourage drinking and driving.
“Slippery roads, poor visibility, holiday traffic and impaired drivers make this time of year particularly dangerous on our roads,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent David Collins. “Last year in Wisconsin, there were more traffic crashes in December than any other month, and those crashes caused 42 deaths and nearly 4,000 injuries.”
Hundreds of traffic deaths and injuries could be prevented each year if more people buckled up and fewer people drove while impaired, according to Wisconsin Department of Transportation statistics.
In 2009, 58 percent of the people killed in passenger car and light-truck crashes were not wearing safety belts when safety belt use could be determined by investigating officers. Of the 542 people killed in traffic crashes last year, 238 or 44 percent died in alcohol-related crashes.
Waupaca County deputies issued 129 safety belt citations in 2008. They more than doubled that number in 2009 when they issued 301 tickets for safety belt violations.
About a dozen safety belt citations were issued in Waupaca County just on New Year’s Eve last year.
“Our goal is to save lives and prevent injuries, not to write more safety belt tickets or make more drunken driving arrests,” Collins said. “For the third year in a row, Wisconsin could end this year with less than 600 traffic fatalities. Three consecutive years of less than 600 fatalities has not occurred since 1942 to 1944. But we believe that even one preventable traffic fatality is one too many, so we are striving to attain zero deaths on our roadways.”