As millions of Americans flood our nation’s highways this Thanksgiving travel holiday, Indiana State Police will join forces with peer law enforcement agencies in other states as part of Operation C.A.R.E.
Operation C.A.R.E.—short for Combined Accident Reduction Effort—reduces crashes by enforcing laws relating to impaired driving, seat belts, speeding and young-adult driver licenses. It is a year-round effort that increases traffic enforcement around major travel holidays including Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter stated, “We are proud to have been the co-founding agency of C.A.R.E. back in 1977, along with the Michigan State Police.” Carter concluded, “It’s important for all to remember, this isn’t about writing tickets; it’s about saving lives. And now 41 years later there is no doubt that agencies who participate in this project has saved countless lives.”
Overtime patrols and equipment purchases are supported with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds distributed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. In Indiana, drivers under age 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a license suspension for up to one year. This year, ISP troopers received 777 new portable breath test devices as part of more than 2,600 such devices recently purchased for law enforcement agencies across Indiana.
Unlike with alcohol-impaired drivers, there is no quick field test for the many prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs that can also impair drivers. Indiana police agencies are trained to recognize and enforce drug-impaired driving. ISP advises anyone taking a new or higher dose of a drug to speak with their doctor or avoid driving until they know the effect the medication could have while behind the wheel. Even over-the-counter medication can cause impairment, especially when combined with alcohol or a second drug.
Getting arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated will result in jail time and loss of a driver’s license, carrying an average cost of about $10,000, including car towing, attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work and other hefty expenses.
2018 marks 30 years since Indiana’s seat belt law took effect. Since then, Indiana and 35 other states have enacted primary seat belt laws, allowing police officers to ticket unrestrained drivers or passengers even if no other traffic violation has taken place. Indiana law also requires all passengers under the age of 8 to be in an approved car seat or booster seat.
Indiana has made great progress through stronger laws and highly visible enforcement—seat belt usage studies show an increase from 62 percent in 2000 to 93 percent in 2017. Yet the small percentage who don’t buckle up make up half of those killed on our roadways. In 2017, 310 of the 607 people killed in passenger vehicle crashes in Indiana were not wearing seat belts.
While pickup trucks and SUVs may feel safer because they are larger and sit higher on the road, state troopers caution against drivers or passengers feeling a false sense of security. Unrestrained occupants of pickup trucks are 12 times more likely to be killed than those wearing seat belts. For unrestrained SUV occupants, the risk is even greater at 18 times more likely to die than restrained occupants.