Staying safe behind the wheel

Taking part in the Madison County Safe Communities Coalition’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” awareness kickoff leading up to the Labor Day Weekend are: (from left) Trooper Alexander Elmlinger, London Police Officer Chris Legrand, London Police Chief Glenn Nicol, Madison County Public Health (MCPH) director of community health and accreditation Elizabeth Devine, and MCPH community health educator Jen Smith. The kickoff took place on Aug. 11 in conjunction with the St. Patrick Community Festival.

(Posted Aug. 17, 2023)

During the Labor Day holiday period, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be working alongside the law enforcement community in Madison County to decrease impaired driving.

Through Sept. 4, Madison County’s Safe Communities Coalition and local law enforcement are participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over high-visibility enforcement period. Officers are working together during this time to take drunk drivers off the roads.

The Safe Communities Coalition promoted the awareness drive with a Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over kickoff event on Aug. 11 in conjunction with the St. Patrick Community Festival in London. The coalition set up cornhole boards and invited visitors to play wearing Fatal Vision goggles that simulate the vision of someone who is impaired by alcohol.

Agencies present at the kickoff were Madison County Public Health, the London Police Department, and the West Jefferson post of the State Highway Patrol.

According to NHTSA, 13,384 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in the United States in 2021–that’s one person every 39 minutes. This is why the Safe Communities Coalition is working with NHTSA to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it’s a matter of life and death.

“We want our community members to understand that it’s our first priority to keep people safe, so we’re asking everyone to plan ahead if they know they’ll be out drinking,” said Jen Smith, Madison County Public Health community health educator.

“The Drive Sober campaign is an awareness effort to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal and it takes lives.

“Always have a plan before you head out for the evening. If you wait until after you’ve been drinking to figure out how to get from one place to the next, you will already be too impaired to make the right choice.”

“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior, especially when there are so many safe alternatives to get you home safely,” said London Police Chief Glenn Nicol. “Two myths many people believe surrounding drinking and driving include: ‘I only live five minutes down the road’ and ‘I feel sober enough to drive home.’”

Having a friend as a designated sober driver or utilizing ride sharing apps are the easiest ways to save lives. Making that extra effort to ensure your friends, loved ones, and community members have a safe way home can save their lives and many others.
The Safe Communities Coalition recommends these safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

• Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage. Designate a sober driver or plan to use a ride service to get home safely.

• If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement.

• Make sure you do not allow anyone who has been drinking to drive. Take their keys and find a designated driver to take them home.

For more information on impaired driving, visit

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