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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts Promotes I-80/I-35 Challenge; Encourages Holiday Travel Safety

GRAND ISLAND – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts was joined by Nebraska law enforcement and public safety officials to promote the I-80/I-35 Challenge, Border-to-Border Traffic Safety Initiative and safe travel over the upcoming Labor Day Holiday.  The I-80/I-35 Challenge is a multi-state, multi-agency high visibility traffic enforcement operation designed to achieve zero fatalities for the period August 28-30.

“The summer months mark a period of increased travel on Nebraska roadways,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Safety initiatives such as the I-80/I-35 Challenge and the You Drink You Drive You Lose campaign provide a way for everyone to get involved in helping to save lives by raising awareness of the need to always buckle up and never drive impaired.”

So far in 2015, the state has recorded 149 traffic fatalities, up from 143 fatalities compared to the same period one year ago.  Of the 113 occupants who died in motor vehicle crashes on Nebraska roadways, 86 were not wearing seat belts.  Data from the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety indicates one out of every three traffic fatalities in Nebraska is alcohol related.

“The goal of both these initiatives is to reduce the potential for serious injury and fatality crashes by increasing officer visibility,” said Colonel Bradley Rice, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol.  “We are proud to join our allied law enforcement agencies in Nebraska and across the I-80/I-35 corridors as we strive for zero fatalities.”

The I-80/I-35 Challenge, Border-to-Border Traffic Safety initiative covers 4,400 miles of roadway from California to New Jersey and Minnesota to Texas and was planned to coincide with the “You Drink You Drive You Lose” (YDYDYL), national enforcement campaign.  Utilizing Federal Highway Safety grant funding, the YDYDYL mobilization in addition to the Nebraska State Patrol includes 31 county sheriff’s offices and 20 community police departments from across the state.

Gov. Ricketts said, “I urge all citizens to partner with law enforcement as we strive for a safe end to the summer travel season.  Watch out for each other, always buckle up, never drive impaired or distracted, and slow down and move over for emergency vehicles.”