GHSP, Partners Aim to Reduce Driving Impairment Among Minority Communities Statewide

State and local officials are targeting minority college students with their latest version of the anti-drunk driving campaign, Booze It & Lose It.

Today, members of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program partnered with Winston-Salem State University on the historically Black university’s campus to launch the 2021 Labor Day Booze It and Lose It campaign. Winston-Salem police also participated.

“Traffic crashes are a health disparity issue, and people of color are disproportionately impacted by serious crashes,” said Mark Ezzell, director of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program, or NCGHSP. “We’re hoping that this event will raise awareness and help reduce impaired driving and serious crashes among young people of color.”

According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, so far in 2021, Black people had the second highest rate of total traffic deaths, pedestrian traffic deaths and bicyclist traffic deaths. Also, Black North Carolinians made up 26 percent of all fatal crashes between 2015 and 2018, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson and Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson expressed their commitment to protecting their communities and highlighting the dangers and consequences of drunk driving for North Carolinians. Justin Hubbard, a Winston-Salem advocate, also shared his testimony about his best friend who is now imprisoned for the death of someone due to impaired driving.

“It’s easy to say it won’t happen to me, but if you drive impaired, it could happen to you,” said Chief Thompson. “You have the power to keep yourself and your family safe.”

Ezzell emphasized the importance of keeping our communities healthy and safe. He cited statistics compiled by GHSP, noting in Forsyth County alone, there were a total of 357 crashes between Aug. 30 and Sept. 12, 2020. About 6 percent of these crashes were alcohol or drug-related.

Ezzell was appreciative of the participation from one of North Carolina’s well known historically Black universities. As part of the launch, NCGHSP, WSSU administration and their partners encouraged fraternities, sororities and other students to use their social media accounts to promote the importance of driving sober.

“Through their engagement, we were able to distribute about 400 rack cards to the student body about not driving impaired and to drive responsibly,” Ezzell said. “We hope no one will drink and drive. Take a cab, call an Uber or have a designated driver instead. We want everyone to enjoy themselves safely and responsibly.”

“We are honored to host this event on the campus of WSSU,” said Hailey Gingles, spokesperson for WSSU. “I’m proud that our students are involved and have taken a firm stance against drinking and driving. The consequences of impaired driving extend well beyond the individual. The responsibility lies with all of us to care for our neighbors to ensure they don’t make an irreversible life decision. At Winston-Salem State University, we are committed to being part of the solution to end this dangerous disease.”

The Forensic Tests for Alcohol Branch Booze It or Lose It Vehicle, commonly referred to as the “BAT Mobile”, was also present during the event. The vehicle is a common resource used by law enforcement to test impaired drivers and get them off of the roads faster.

NCGHSP is dedicated to reducing the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in North Carolina. The Booze It and Lose It campaign is among several initiatives led by NCGHSP and is recognized as one of the nation’s model anti-drunk driving campaigns.

For those who have a social media platform, show NCGHSP your commitment to driving safely. Mention @NCGHSP on Facebook and tag @NC_GHSP on Twitter and Instagram with #NCGHSP to show that you are committed this Labor Day to protecting your community. For media inquiries, contact NCGHSP Communications Manager Julia Casadonte at (828) 400-3941 or jcasadonte@ncdot.gov.

Author: Mike Jackson