With the goal of reducing the number of fatal accidents on New Jersey roadways over the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, local police departments and county officers will step up enforcement and set up sobriety checkpoints.
This year’s effort will be focused on protecting passengers in vehicles; last year, five of the seven deaths that occurred on New Jersey highways during the Thanksgiving holidays represented passengers.
“Last year the majority of deaths came to passengers riding in vehicles,” Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. “Drivers must remember the safety of their passengers and others depends solely on their commitment to drive responsibility. The Thanksgiving holiday is for celebrating family and loved ones. We beg those who get behind the wheel this holiday to drive responsibly and make smart choices to assure this holiday remains a time for celebration and not mourning.”
This weekend’s enforcement effort will be concentrated throughout the Ocean County area and consist of numerous checkpoints and roving patrols searching for impaired drivers, the statement said.
Beyond targeting inattentive and aggressive drivers, the detail will also focus on “detecting, educating, deterring, arresting, and vigorously prosecuting impaired drivers,” according to officials The program targets those under the influence of alcohol, but in response to Ocean County’s drug crisis also utilizes an addition of two Drug Recognition Experts at each checkpoint to detect those under the influence of narcotics. The county also oversees a countywide call out system for DREs to respond and assist agencies in conducting evaluations of subjects suspected to be operating a motor vehicle under the influence of narcotics.
During the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday weekend two of six fatal accidents involved drugs or alcohol, Coronato said.
“The last three years have seen a steady increase in New Jersey roadway deaths – 480 deaths in 2015, 534 in 2016, and 540 deaths to date in 2017,” said Coronato. “These statistics are tremendously tragic and unacceptable. Thankfully, Ocean County had no fatalities during the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday.
“The dedicated law enforcement officers of our county will spend their holiday away from family trying to repeat that zero fatality weekend. Please do your part by simply driving safely.”