PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (KT) - Drivers in eastern Kentucky may have noticed an increased presence of law enforcement on local roadways — a presence that will continue at least for the next few months, according to Johnson County Sheriff Doug Saylor.
The ramp-up in city, county and state police enforcement is part of the statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which begins around the time schools return to session and ends around Labor Day.
Bob Criswell, Eastern Kentucky law enforcement liaison for the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, said after a meeting with local law enforcement officers at the Ramada Inn and Conference Center in Paintsville on Tuesday that the campaign’s goal is simple: Save lives.
“This is one of five such meetings we’re holding across Eastern Kentucky,” Criswell said.
Saylor, one of those present for Tuesday’s session, said there will also be extra attention paid to seatbelt usage and proper child restraint usage. Kentucky is one of 34 states, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with what are called primary seatbelt enforcement laws, meaning drivers can be pulled over solely for not having themselves or their other vehicle passengers properly restrained.
“We’ve got some deputies now that are absolutely working all the hours they can,” Saylor said. “You’ve got some deputies that are very aggressive for this. It makes the roadways safer, whether that’s preventing deaths from speeding, drunk driving or unrestrained occupants.”
Part of the federally-funded program is an $11,000 grant, which Saylor’s office is working to renew for the next year’s cycle, which funds law enforcement officers’ overtime for additional enforcement and presence.
Chief Mike Roe with the Paintsville Police Department said the city police are also receiving the same grant, as part of the measure to prevent tragedies on local roadways.
“We’ll have saturated patrols from August 16 through Labor Day,” Roe said. “We want you to get out, have a good time, but have a plan to make it home safely.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person is killed in an impaired driving crash every 51 minutes nationwide, but during the Labor Day weekend, that rate becomes one every 34 minutes.
The official “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign may only run through Labor Day, but Saylor said his office is funded for additional enforcement into October.