Drunk driving is the nation¿s most frequently committed violent crime, killing someone every 30 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, 40 percent of all traffic fatalities occur between October and January, during the festive holiday season.
It¿s these statistics that have driven Atlanta Motor Speedway to team with the local law enforcement agencies to illustrate the dangers of drinking and driving during the Dec. 10 Holiday Sobriety Challenge at the speedway.
Platinum-certified rapper Da Brat, Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, WSB-AM traffic guru Capt. Herb Emory, Star 94¿s Jonathan Hyla and Hot 107.9¿s DJ Nabs will all participate in the first Holiday Sobriety Challenge, a controlled wine and beer tasting experiment that graphically illustrates the dangers of drinking and driving, even at levels well below the legal limit of .08-percent. The event will be co-sponsored by the Georgia Office of Highway Safety (GOHS), Georgia State Patrol (GSP), MADD Georgia, Team Georgia and Xtreme Measures Teen Driving School.
Participants in the Holiday Sobriety Challenge will be given anywhere from one to three glasses of wine or beer upon arrival, then submit to field sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer analysis administered by the GSP. Testers will then get behind the wheel of a Chevrolet provided by Bellamy-Strickland and drive through a closed driving course accompanied by instructors from Xtreme Measures.
Each participant¿s results will be recorded and analyzed by the Xtreme Measures instructors and GSP. Results of the driving test will be released during a press conference at the event.
Atlanta Motor Speedway sister track Infineon Raceway has hosted the Holiday Sobriety Challenge for the past seven years, finding that more than 70 percent of the participants have failed the driving test, even at levels well below the legal limit of .08.
"You¿re an impaired driver well before you hit the legal limit," said Trooper Larry Schnall, public affairs officer for the Georgia State Patrol. "Alcohol is a depressant, and it slows reaction time ¿ whether you¿ve had one drink, two drinks, three drinks or more.
"Last year we lost 488 people as a result of DUI-related crashes; one is too many. Through education efforts like the Holiday Sobriety Challenge and strong enforcement of the laws, we hope to make it a safe holiday season."
Added Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Bob Dallas: "Motor vehicle crash fatalities outnumber Georgia's murder rate by nearly three-to-one. The alcohol-related crashes that kill, maim and injure hundreds of Georgians every year are preventable."