TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– Police agencies around Indiana are increasing patrols over the next two weeks as part of a campaign to raise awareness about drunk or distracted drivers.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is providing funding for the extra patrols, found that fatal accidents in Indiana increased about 20% over the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

Sergeant Matt Ames with the Indiana State Police said the extra patrols will be looking out for distracted or impaired driving.

Here in the United States, 30% of all accidents that occur is do to the result of alcohol, another third of the accidents are a result of excessive speeds,” he said. ‘Through this campaign, it will allow officers to do nothing but concentrate on traffic.”

Ames said the end of summer was a busier time of year for patrols.

“We do start to see more activity, especially on the weekends, as it gets closer to the end of summer,” he said. “People are finally getting together for their final picnics, final get-togethers with family and friends, colleges are getting back into session, Indiana State University, Indiana University, Purdue.”

Terre Haute resident, Terry Hogan, said he thinks the increased police presence is helpful in the downtown area to start the school year. 

“In town, it’s important because you’re bringing 10,000 students in, many of them aren’t from here. So they don’t know the one-way streets and downtown you’ll see some of them go the wrong way on a one-way street.”

Ames said the goal of the extra patrols was to raise awareness of distracted driving.

“The most important thing is, if you’re going to go out and you’re going to have a good time, make sure that you have a sober driver to get you home safely,” he said. “Make sure that you’re not driving aggressively, you’re obeying the posted speed limits, don’t drive distracted and always make sure that you’re buckled up.”