SALT LAKE CITY — Each New Year's Eve, the Utah Highway Patrol and other law enforcement look to keep those who have drank too much from driving.
At the UHP station along I-15, troopers have just started their shifts in Monday's "DUI blitz," where they will look for drivers who don't signal, make unsafe lane changes or show other signs that they are impaired after ringing in the New Year.
"People want to celebrate that," said UHP Trooper Shawn Peppers. "I think it's important for us to have an increased presence just to make sure the roadways are safe."
Craig Bickmore, Executive Director of the New Car Dealers of Utah, has ridden along with troopers before.
"What surprises me is that people know that there are officers out looking for drunk driving, and people still drink and drive," Bickmore said.
They arrested one driver who had twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system.
44 : alcohol impaired-driving fatalities in 2010 96: arrests for teenage drinking and driving under the influence 7,179: arrests for driving under the influence
Info: Century Council
"They didn't even know where they were," Bickmore said. "They tried to drive off from the scene. They hit two other cars."
These blitzes are one reason Utah will end 2012 with the lowest number of highway traffic fatalities in nearly four decades.
That number has steadily declined over the past dozen years. 2012 will end with fewer fatalities than 1974, when 228 people died on our highways. Last year: 243 fatalities. As of mid-December there were 198.
Trooper Peppers also credits the UHP for its crack down on speeding and seatbelt use, along with impaired driving.
"I think that the enforcement of those three things has been a contributor to those numbers," Peppers said.
That matters to the troopers on patrol.
"We are on the highways, and our families are on the highways, and we want to make sure they're safe for everyone," Peppers said.
The troopers know that DUI crashes and fatalities are preventable and their goal is zero fatalities.