As the Labor Day holiday period approaches, Arkansans will begin to see to see more law enforcement officers patrolling streets and highways prepared to arrest drunk drivers, according to the Arkansas State Police.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has partnered with Arkansas State Police, county sheriff’s offices and local police departments during the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" mobilization, which is underway and will continue through Labor Day. Statewide and national advertising that explains the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with the stepped-up DWI enforcement, are part of a plan designed to improve highway safety by going on the offensive against drunk driving.

“Labor Day should be a time for friends and family to enjoy the last days of the summer season,” Col. Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety representative, says in a news release. “We’re asking motorists who may choose to drink, not to drive. Choosing not to drink and drive will result in safer travel for everyone and keep impaired drivers out of jail.”

According to data from NHTSA, there was an increase in the total number of drunken-driving deaths in 2017. The total number of deaths rose to 10,874 compared with 10,497 lives lost during 2016.

During the 2017 Labor Day holiday period, there were 376 traffic fatalities nationwide. Forty-four percent of those fatalities involved drivers who had been drinking (.01+ BAC). More than one-third (36%) of the fatalities involved drivers who were drunk (.08+ BAC), and more than one-fourth (26%) involved drivers who were driving with a blood alcohol content almost twice the legal limit (.15+ BAC).

The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office recommends the following:

• Always plan ahead whenever you expect to drive and consume alcohol.

• Designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.

• If you have been drinking, call a taxi, take the bus or call a sober friend or family member to get you to your destination safely.

• Promptly contact law enforcement to report drunk drivers you see on the roadways.

• Always wear your seat belt.

• If you’re on a motorcycle, use protective safety equipment.

For information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visit TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136. For more on the ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign, visit TZDarkansas.org.