Indiana State Police Bloomington District are increasing patrols from February 26 through March 21 to prevent spikes in reckless driving during St. Patrick's Day and the NCAA Tournament, according to an Indiana State Police press release Wednesday.
“However you celebrate this year, do so responsibly. Slow down, buckle up and if you drink, don’t drive. It’s that simple,” Lt. Paul Bucher, District Commander of the Bloomington State Police Post, said in the press release.
According to the press release, the overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute grant. According to the press release, the patrols will target dangerous driving tactics such as driving with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08, speeding and tailgating.
This initiative is in response to a rise in dangerous driving and traffic fatalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the press release. A study by the NHTSA revealed miles traveled decreased by 14.5% in the first nine months of 2020 and traffic-related deaths spiked by 4.6% nationwide. Indiana followed the national trend of decreased mileage yet increased fatalities with 850 traffic- related deaths in 2020, according to the ICJI.
“We’re seeing an uptick in dangerous driving during the pandemic, and it’s very concerning,” ICJI Executive Director Devon McDonald said in the press release. “That’s why we’re pulling out all the stops this March to reverse that trend and encourage safe driving behavior. Preventing loss of life is our top priority.”