Initiative to target ‘buzzed’ drivers

As the holiday season nears, law enforcement agencies are working together to help prevent drunk driving accidents across the state.

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, a program by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, is an effort designed to educate drivers about the dangers of driving even when having just a small bit of alcohol to drink.

The Iowa State Patrol is one of several law enforcement agencies that have participated in Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving in the past.

Lt. Kelly Hindman, Post 7 commander, said in some cases drivers who have only had a little bit to drink may be more dangerous than drivers who are above the legal limit.

“Some of these people who drive buzzed tend to be dangerous because they have a cavalier attitude that they’re not drunk and that they’re fine to drive,” he said. “They simply don’t recognize they’re intoxicated or impaired.”

Because of that, Hindman said it was decided to try and target “buzzed” drivers to let them know of the dangers of driving after having any alcohol to drink.

“Most people think of us as law enforcement, but in traffic safety there’s both an education and enforcement wing,” Hindman said. “We’re certainly behind the initiative.”

The goal of the program is to be proactive.

“Law enforcement is almost reactive,” he said. “But the more and more we’re trying to use the public safety initiatives to tell people to be aware that it’s a problem. It helps them make smart choices so we don’t have a problem later on and stop it before it occurs.”

Hindman said this program is held during the holiday season because drivers tend to have a lot more on their minds.

“That impacts people’s driving,” he said. “Any distractions create dangers, whether it’s holiday shopping or the amount of extra people in the car. All of those can add to safety issues that don’t tend to exist throughout the year.”

The unpredictable weather can also have a negative impact on driving.

“The temperatures can hover around freezing where one or two degrees can drastically change road conditions,” he said. “We encourage people to be mindful of that.”

Hindman said the best way to keep from causing a drunk or buzzed driving accident is to avoid alcohol before driving.

“There’s an inherent danger when any of us choose to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel,” he said. “There’s that risk of injuring or killing themselves or others.”