SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - With Mardi Gras and Super Bowl 50 both this weekend, the good times are definitely rolling in South Mississippi, but don't take the fun on the road if you've been drinking.
Law enforcement across the coast are stepping up their patrols this weekend to keep the roads safe from drunk drivers. The high-visibility campaign is part of the national initiative Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
Jackson County Sheriff's Department will be teaming up with other law enforcement agencies across the nation to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving and not using seat belts.
The campaign is in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Drivers can expect to find more checkpoints and an increased number of officers on the roads in an effort to drastically reduce the number of impaired driving incidents.
"Too many people think their actions don't affect anybody else," said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell. "They know it's illegal. They know it's wrong. But they do it anyway – they make decisions as if those statistics just can't happen to them."
Emphasizing the preventable nature of drunk driving, Sheriff Ezell said, "All it takes is a little planning ahead. Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don't drink and drive."
According to the NHTSA, over 10,000 people are killed every year in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the United States, which is about one person every 50 minutes.
Seat belts are another focus of law enforcement this weekend.
"It's simple: seat belts save lives," said Sheriff Ezell. "Thousands of Americans are alive today because they were wearing theirs during a crash. But thousands more would be with us if they had buckled up, and we will continue to urge every driver and passenger to use a seat belt."