NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- A new campaign to target drunken driving on Virginia's rural back roads has been launched by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.
The 2008 Checkpoint Strikeforce is a statewide initiative combining enforcement and education. More than 75 state and local law enforcement agencies across the state are participating.
For the rest of the year law enforcement agencies across Virginia will hold at least one sobriety checkpoint or saturation patrol each week.
"Virginia will continue its tough stance against drunk drivers and we will not allow back road escapes for people driving under the influence," Kaine said. "We must remain vigilant to decrease these preventable traffic fatalities throughout the state."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 55 percent of the nation's 2006 traffic fatalities occurred on rural roads.
Alcohol was linked to more than a third of deaths on the state's roads last year.
In 2007, there were 378 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Virginia, the governor's office said.
More than 1,000 people were killed on the state's roads in total.
"The message from law enforcement is as simple as it is clear. If you choose to drink and drive, we will catch you no matter what roadway you take," said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police.
As well as sobriety checkpoints and patrols the Checkpoint Strikeforce campaign will include a $1 million advertising campaign to remind people about the dangers and consequences of impaired driving. Throughout the next few months, nearly 25,000 radio and television spots will run throughout the state.
The campaign has been supported by a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Virginia Highway Safety Office launched the state's latest effort to encourage the use of designated drivers Thursday. The HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers ( www.drivesmartva.org) is modeled after a New Jersey-based designated driver effort stemming from the death of John Elliott, a young U.S. Naval Ensign who was killed by a drunken driver.
ONLINE EXTRA: To listen to the Strikeforce ads and get more information go to www.checkpointstrikeforce.net/educate.html.