(LITTLE ROCK) – As motorists take to the  roads this Labor Day holiday, the Arkansas Highway Safety Office urges everyone  to buckle up and drive sober.
The Arkansas State Police, other  state, city and county law enforcement agencies will increase DWI and seat belt  patrols beginning Friday, August 16th.  The additional patrols will  continue through Labor Day, Monday September 2nd.
The statewide  crackdown effort against impaired drivers and seat belt law violators  underscores the disproportionate number of traffic deaths involving alcohol and  unbelted motorists.
“We want everyone to have a safe holiday, but  it requires important steps on the part of motorists – clicking that seat belt  and driving sober,” said Colonel Stan Witt, Arkansas State Police Director and  Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “Safety is a primary concern,  not just for drivers, but also passengers and others on the road.”
Law enforcement officers across Arkansas recommend that anyone who plans to  consume alcohol make alternative transportation plans, such as designating a  sober driver or calling a friend.
Colonel Witt also stressed the  importance of wearing a seat belt as your best defense against a drunk  driver.  “Our Troopers are prepared to arrest drunk drivers and ticket  those not wearing a seat belt.”
There were 549 traffic fatalities  on Arkansas roadways during 2011.  Twenty-eight percent (or 156) of those  fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a Blood Alcohol  Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
An additional area of  concern is motor vehicle occupant protection.  During 2011 there were 220  unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities.
“Seat belts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many motorists still  are not buckling up,” Colonel Witt said.  “With a seat belt use rate of  almost 72 percent, Arkansas lags far behind the national average of 86  percent.”
Law enforcement officers will be working overtime during  the holiday period which typically experiences an increase in motor vehicle  traffic.  It will be the goal of the officers to save lives by exercising  strict enforcement of the Arkansas seat belt and impaired driving  laws.
The law enforcement crackdown is funded by federal traffic  safety funds through the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office and it runs  concurrently with a media campaign that will remind motorists, “Drive Sober or  Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket.”     For more  information, log onto TrafficSafetyMarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway  Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.