||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
UW-Eau Claire Participates
in 'Safe and Sober Campaign'
MAILED: Feb. 16, 1998|
EAU CLAIRE -- Raising awareness on an important safety issue goes a long way toward preventing a problem from occurring in the first place.
This is the driving force behind the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Office of Public Safety's continuing efforts for safe and sober driving.
For the second year in a row, the office is participating in a nation-wide law enforcement attempt to increase seat-belt use and curb drunken driving by drawing attention to and raising awareness of these problems among drivers of all ages.
The year-long project, titled "Campaign Safe and Sober," is something David Backstrom, director of the UW-Eau Claire Office of Public Safety, sees as a way of cutting the number of accidents and injuries that occur while driving.
"Our major goal is to make the community aware that seat belts are important and that drunken driving is a very dangerous thing," Backstrom said.
Last year, when the campus public safety office joined 79 other law enforcement agencies statewide, the office was awarded a $3,000 grant from the Department of Transportation for its efforts with the campaign from July 1996 to July 1997. The campaign this year started in December of 1997 and will run through October.
Though the campaign runs throughout the year, the strongest efforts at compiling data and issuing traffic violations are done in three months.
During a chosen month, officers spend the first week counting the number of seat-belt users in 100 vehicles, spend the second week alerting the media about the campaign, enforce seat-belt and drinking and driving laws the third week, and take a recount of the number of seat-belt users in 100 vehicles during the fourth week.
Backstrom said last year's introduction to the campaign prompted him to take on the project again this year with some more experience and knowledge on its goals.
Campus police Sgt. Bill Ingram, who helped organize the campaign with Backstrom, said the response from the community about the project has been positive.
The more officers can get out in the field and work on these problems, the more likely there will be decrease in the number of injuries and accidents, Ingram said.
The DOT's Bureau of Transportation Safety said statistics indicate safety initiatives such as "Campaign Safe and Sober" have an impact. Wisconsin is seeing a decrease in the number of fatalities on roadways, said David Manning, BOTS director.
"October of 1997 recorded the lowest number of fatalities since World War II for the month and we want to spread this trend throughout the entire year with programs such as 'Campaign Safe and Sober,'" Manning said.
At the same time the Public Safety office were working on the campaign, other law enforcement agencies in the city and county became aware of the project and check seat-belts and signs of drunk driving, Backstrom said.
"We believe 'Campaign Safe and Sober' is truly an effective safety initiative," Backstrom said. "The message this campaign delivers is one that may save lives on our roadways."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: March 16, 1998