By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4)– Law enforcement is increasing patrols for impaired drivers across Colorado starting on Friday. As of Nov. 1, there have been 168 traffic deaths in the state involving an impaired driver. That’s up 14% from the year before, despite lower traffic volumes.

(credit: CBS)

“The holidays should be a memorable time for our community, but not because it marks the loss of a loved one due to an impaired driving crash,” said Chief Matthew Packard, Colorado State Patrol, in a statement. “We will be actively looking for people who fail to plan for a sober ride after using drugs or alcohol.”

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Alcohol use, including excessive drinking, has also increased nationally during the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest increase in excessive drinking has been observed in western states, including Colorado. The average drinks per day has increased 27% and binge drinking has increased by 26%.

During their “Heat is On” enforcement, 81 agencies statewide will increase sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and law enforcement on duty. It will be conducted from Dec. 4 -14.

In addition to increased enforcement, the Colorado Department of Transportation is teaming up with the ride sharing service Lyft to discourage drunk or impaired driving.

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The team effort is providing $10 ride credits for the first 200 customers every Thursday in December in cities where fatalities were the highest in 2019. Codes will be available to residents of the following cities on these dates:

Thursday, Dec. 3 — Denver
Thursday, Dec. 10 — Colorado Springs
Thursday, Dec. 17 — Thornton
Thursday, Dec. 24 — Denver
Thursday, Dec. 31 — Colorado Springs

For additional information, visit: www.GiftOfLyft.com.

A few of the COVID-19 safety guidelines for ride-share services include wearing a face mask, leaving the front seat empty, and staying home if you’re sick. Review the full list of Lyft’s latest COVID-19 precautions here: www.lyft.com/safety/coronavirus.

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also has safety information geared toward ride-share service drivers at: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Mekialaya White