As traffic fatalities continue to rise in Colorado Springs and across the state, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement are scrambling to ensure motorists get home safely this Thanksgiving.
In 2021, Thanksgiving was Colorado’s deadliest holiday season, with 16 deaths across the state, according to CDOT data. Five of those deaths involved suspected disabled drivers.
With more than a month left in 2022, Colorado Springs has already had its deadliest traffic year on record with 52 deaths so far, according to police. The dismal new record eclipses the previous 2020 mark of 51.
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As part of an effort to keep roads safer during the holiday, state and local law enforcement agencies began the first of three enforcement periods Thursday. The enforcement period for Thanksgiving week, marked by increased DUI patrols and increased police presence on streets and highways, will be in effect through the end of November, CDOT officials said.
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Agency officials hope the increased presence will help curb the social phenomenon known as “drinksgiving,” which is linked to heavy drinking during the holiday season. Accidents related to drunk driving spike during Thanksgiving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said there’s no excuse for driving under the influence, especially since the advent of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
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“Being disabled is not a mistake; it’s a crime,” Packard said. “With so many safe driving options available, you should never choose to drive under the influence of alcohol.”
CDOT officials recommend that people visiting family or friends make a return home plan.
The next DUI enforcement periods will be December 8-20 and December 29-January 1. 3.
“While most people do the right thing, we encourage everyone, even if it’s just a short journey, to make a plan and go through with it,” said Darrel Lingk, director of transportation safety at CDOT. “An arrest for DUI should never be part of your vacation.”
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