ROANOKE, Va. - December is Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, and with the holiday season finally here, local police are increasing their patrols.
"We here at the Vinton Police Department do step up patrols and have saturated patrols specifically for safety and to try and prevent all types of crashes, but specifically for alcohol and drug related crashes," said Christopher Froeschel, Sergeant Vinton Police.
Thankfully, in Southwest Virginia, a DUI Task Force has helped decrease the number of impaired drivers on the roads.
The DUI Task Force is composed of officers from city of Salem, Roanoke City, Roanoke County, and Vinton Police, and is specifically used to take impaired drivers off the roads.
"Just to have those extra patrols out there specifically for that type of an incident has reduced the amount of alcohol related driving incidents just because people know they're out there," said Froeschel.
"They're thinking more before they get into a vehicle to drive."
The increased patrols seem to be working. Since 2016, alcohol related crashes are down 2.6% in the commonwealth of Virginia.
There's a 8.8% decrease in those injured from alcohol related crashes while fatalities linked to alcohol related crashes have stayed relatively the same.
The majority (87.9%) of impaired driving accidents occur on the on backroads while the other 12.1% occur on the interstate.
Despite the downward trends, local police still urge drivers to take caution before they get behind the wheel this holiday season.
"Just two drinks an hour multiples the chances you're going to be involved in an alcohol related crash," said Froeschel.
"Especially during the holidays, I would hate to see somebody involved in any type of accident with family members or anything it's just a difficult time."