Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 19, 2013

Don’t be a statistic

— Many area residents schedule vacations around school calendars. When the kids are on “spring break” — most local school districts have scheduled theirs the first week of April — some families hit the road.

Still others have no such “child restraints.” They can plan a trip to Myrtle Beach and other coastal communities of the South when winter’s worst gets to be too much.

If you’ll be seeking warmer climes this month, you’ll have company on the highway. More than 250 state and local law enforcement agencies will be patrolling Indiana roads.

“March is a spirited time for Hoosiers. From the quest for college basketball glory to neighborhood St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the month brings many opportunities to gather with family and friends,” T. Neil Moore of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute said in March 2010.

“No matter what your reason for revelry, if you plan to drink, make the right play. Give your keys to a sober driver,” he said.

Later that month, there were 50 fatalities on Indiana roadways. Twenty-eight percent of them involved a driver who was legally intoxicated.

Last year, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, there were 6,264 alcohol-related crashes in Indiana with 97 fatalities. During the month of March in 2012, there were 524 alcohol-related crashes and six fatalities reported.

Drivers in Kokomo, Howard County and throughout Indiana can expect this week:

• Sobriety checkpoints to take drunken drivers off the roads.

• Law enforcement officers watching for unsafe lane changes, vehicles following others too closely and speeding.

• Officers ensuring that all occupants in a vehicle are wearing seat belts.

Before heading out on vacation this month or next, remember to make sure your tires are properly inflated and that your wipers and lights operate properly. Also allow for extra time to your destination.

Don’t be a statistic. Drive safely.