Florida Keys News
Monday, December 31, 2012
Don't drink and drive: Plan ahead, be smart and safe

It's New Year's Eve and more than four million travelers are expected to hit Florida's roadways during the end of the year holiday, which started Thursday.

In 2011, there were 920 alcohol-related fatalities in Florida resulting from motor vehicle crashes.

It is for this reason law enforcement agencies across the state -- including our local agencies -- are gearing up for "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign. Their goal is to stop impaired drivers and to save lives.

"Lots of folks will be out during this busy holiday season, enjoying themselves and the holiday festivities, and we want them to be safe on our roadways," Lora Hollingsworth, Florida Department of Transportation chief safety officer, said in a press release. "That's why our law enforcement partners will be stepping up efforts to catch and arrest impaired drivers."

And those checkpoints are happening here in the Keys also.

The Key West Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office are both doing their best to keep residents and visitor's safe.

Officers will be out looking for impaired drivers, said Alyson Crean, spokeswoman for the Key West Police Department.

Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Becky Herrin said there will be an increased presence of officers on the streets, especially in areas where there are known problems.

"We will be watching," she said. "We will be concentrating on dangerous traffic."

Trice Denny, spokeswoman for the Naval Air Station in Key West said the same is being done on the base, although it is not open to the public.

"We do DUI checkpoints on the base year round but we are stepping it up for the holidays," she said Saturday.

So planning ahead for the evening is a smart idea:

• The city of Key West is providing an easy way for everyone to have a safe and happy New Year's Eve. It is offering Safe Ride shuttles beginning at 4 p.m. today in the Lower Keys and 6 p.m. in the city service areas which include Key West and Stock Island.

The special shuttles end at 4 a.m. with the last shuttle trip leaving Key West for Marathon at 2 a.m. from Fausto's on Fleming Street.

Safe Ride shuttle fares are $10 per person per trip for the Lower Keys and $5 per person per trip for Key West City areas. For more information call (305) 809-3910 or (305) 600-1455. Information is also available on line at www.keywestcity.com, or www.kwtransit.com.

There will be no bus service on New Year's Day, but normal service resumes Wednesday.

• Before leaving home, check on traffic congestions, crashes and construction by calling FDOT's toll-free 511 number or visit www.FL511.com You can also download the free Florida 511 app on iTunes.

• FDOT also recommends picking a designated sober driver ahead of time to get home safely, adding partygoers should call a taxi, friend or family member if they have too much to drink instead of getting into the car and driving while impaired.

"We want everyone to enjoy their holidays, but we also want our roadways to be safe," Col. Brierton, with the Florida Highway Patrol, said. "We will be watching."

sfrederick@keysnews.com

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