Students, others Rally at ECU to Prevent Drunk Driving Fatalities
Greenville — A group of college students, state officials and others converged Thursday, March 14, with a mission to prevent more drunk driving fatalities. The group of about 100 people, including 50 students, met at Sup Dogs, a popular eatery adjacent to the campus of East Carolina University.
Their call to action was timely. Drunk driving is more common on St. Patrick’s Day than at other times of the year and so, too, are deaths due to drunk driving.
“We had to be here, it’s our duty as leaders on the campus of ECU to help shine a light on this problem and actually do something about it,” said Gillian Smith, vice president of Recruitment for Panhellenic on the campus of ECU. “We’ve walked about a mile radius around 5th and Summit Streets, handing out fliers, posting anti-drunk-driving messages on our social media account and simply sounding the alarm.”
The community canvass kicked off The Governor’s Highway Safety Programs statewide ‘Booze It & Lose It’ campaign, where law enforcement from around all 100 counties began conducting saturation patrols. The goal was to remove impaired drivers from roadways and save lives over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The campaign runs today through Sunday, March 17.
“Whether it be via bus, cab, ride share or a buddy, we just want riders to get home alive and it’s going to take all of us, every time making the right decision,” said Governor’s Highway Safety Program Director Mark Ezzell. “We are grateful that the community of Greenville and beyond recognized the importance of this initiative and volunteered their time and resources today.”
The group was armed with many sobering statistics, including the fact that:
•On St. Patrick’s Day, on average, drunk driving deaths increase by 8 percent;
•Of the people who died in crashes on St. Patrick’s Day, 51 percent were alcohol-related;
•Drunk driving fatalities are seven times more likely at night on St. Patrick’s Day; and
•Of the people killed on St. Patrick’s Day due to drunk driving, 44 percent are between the ages of 21 and 34 years old.
“We want people to be aware of the repercussions of driving behaviors,” said Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman. “Our city has some of the worst drunk-driving records over the last few years and we are tired of our friends, children, co-workers dying this way.”
Chief Holztman and dozens of law enforcement, first responders, child advocates, health care workers from around Pitt County and Eastern Carolina joined volunteers who helped canvass several city blocks around one of the city’s most popular restaurants.
In addition to volunteers canvassing the community and walking about a mile around the downtown area, the ECU campus transit system changed their messaging on the front of all campus buses with the ‘Booze It & Lose It’ slogan. The City of Greenville, Pitt County schools, Vidant Health and a host of other organizations posted safety messaging on their social media accounts using the hashtags #keysfree and #NCGHSP.
The ‘Booze It & Lose It’ campaign is one of the many campaigns by The Governor’s Highway Safety Program which supports a myriad of safe-driving initiatives like Click It or Ticket, BikeSafe NC, Watch For Me NC, Speed a Little. Lose a Lot, and North Carolina’s Vision Zero initiative.
Visit ghsp.nc.gov and follow NCGHSP on Facebook @NCGHSP, Instagram and Twitter @NC_GHSP. For media inquiries contact: GHSP Communications Specialist Miracle King firstname.lastname@example.org