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DWI awareness campaign will be more visual during holiday season

December 10, 2010|by Chad Plein, KY3 News | cplein@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A new survey finds as many as 30 million Americans drive drunk every year.  With the holiday season traditionally comes a spike in DWI violations.  Now, some local agencies are changing their proactive approach.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol, Greene County Sheriff's Department and Springfield Police Department try be more like fire preventers rather than firefighters when it comes to people who drive impaired; they'd rather educate than arrest.

"An accident involving a DWI is one of the most disappointing accidents because it is 100 percent preventable," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Cpl. Shane Monk.

Every 45 minutes someone in the United States is killed in a drunken driving accident.

"Nothing prepares you for the presentation that a family member is lost," Monk said about telling famlies of the death of a loved one, "especially when it's the result of an impaired driver."

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration finds 14.8 percent of Missouri drivers have driven drunk in the past year; that's above the national average.  Arkansas fares better.  Last year roughly 11.5 percent of drivers under the influence of alcohol.

When it comes to driving under the influence of illicit drugs, the states flip-flop.  Arkansas is in the top percent with roughly 6.5 percent of drivers admitting to it while Missouri averages 4.5 percent of drivers using drugs this past year.

On Friday, SPD and City of Springfield were at the intersection of Kansas Expressway at West Erie.  It's an intersection infamous for intoxication.

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"This is a historical location where DWI fatalities have occurred," said Springfield Police Department spokesman Cpl. Matt Brown.  "Not only is this a dangerous intersection that has seen lives lost, but it's also an important message: 'Don't drink and drive."

The city, police department, Highway Patrol and sheriff's department will shoot a public service announcement (PSA) at the intersection next week.
   
"Police Chief Paul Williams is dedicated to having PSAs to make the city a safer place," Brown said.

The Highway Patrol reports one in three fatal crashes in Missouri is alcohol-related.  A common misconception is that drunken drivers are out only at night.  The truth is they are being pulled over at all hours of the day.  Officers say, no matter when you're driving, always drive defensively.

The shooting of this PSA might detour some traffic on Kansas Expressway.  It'll be at the Erie intersection, which is just north of Walnut Lawn Street and just south of Battlefield Road.  The agencies scheduled the shoot for Tuesday just after lunch.  They say it'll probably take about two hours to shoot.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol offers help in dealing with the loss of a loved one from a DWI accident.  Filling the VOID (victims of impaired drivers) can be reached at 1-888-773-1800.

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