Extra patrols on the roads for New Year's

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - It's a time for celebration, but law enforcement warns it could be deadly.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office says every New Years, drivers get behind the wheel impaired. This weekend they'll be stepping up patrols to catch those that do.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy rode along with the sheriff's office and has more.

During the 2006 New Year, nine people died on Tennessee's roadways. That's down from 12 the previous year. The Sheriff's Office says the number of officers on the road will still go up.

"Nobody wins if somebody's out driving under the influence," Sgt. Michael Evans said.

Tis the season for DUI'S.

"I would say that my shift has never gone a News Years without finding someone driving under the influence," Evans said.

During 2006 New Year's there were nine fatal crashes on Tennessee Roadways. Nine dead people, one every 8 and 1/2 hours.

"This is the busiest in my opinion holiday that we have," Evans said.

Of those, four people died in alcohol-related crashes. One right here in Knox County.

"We're hoping we can catch them first before something bad happens," Evans said.

To try and do that, the Sheriff's Office is putting extra cruisers on the road this weekend. In past years, that's meant around a dozen more sets of eyes.

"We have problem areas from time to time. We try to focus on those areas," Evans said.

And the busiest areas. That means Clinton Highway, Chapman Highway, and Kingston Pike.

"The influx of people at 12:30 and 1:00 in the morning is tremendous," Evans said.

Sergeant Michael Evans' spent 15 years behind the wheel. The memory of one drunk driver stands out.

"We had two young girls that were in a very bad accident," Evans said.

The results stretched further than just down the road.

"They were both sober. One of them lost a leg the other at the time was paralyzed," Evans said.

Sergeant Evans says consider this your warning.

"I don't want anybody out driving drunk," Evans said.

He won't be the only one looking for you if you do.

The Sheriff's Office says the best action you can take is to designate a driver. Drive defensively and slow down. Also, don't forget to buckle-up. Last year, 75% of those killed in New Year's crashes weren't wearing their seatbelts.

The deadliest New Year on Tennessee roadways was 1970-71. That year, 19 died in traffic crashes.

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