You know what’s scary? Zombies. You know what’s scarier? Drunken driving.
Drunk-driving zombies would be even worse — but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Law enforcement officers want to make sure people know how horrifying it can be for the living to drive drunk and hope a scary safety campaign will keep them from driving under the influence and potentially joining the ranks of the dead.
Zombies Against Drunk Driving (a real group) has teamed up with law enforcement for the two-day campaign. Beginning Friday, officers and ghoulish actors will be at two downtown Salt Lake City locations to scare "the bajeebees" out of anyone planning to drink and drive and share safety reminders, according to a campaign news release.
The zombies and officers will share the DUI prevention message at City Creek Center’s South Temple entrance at 5 p.m., then outside The Green Pig Pub (31 E. 400 South) at 6:30 p.m. The campaign continues Halloween night outside the Megaplex 12 at The Gateway Mall at 5 p.m. and then at Lumpys Bar and Grill at 6:30 p.m.
The cops and zombies hope for airtime with media on either day as well.
"It’s a great holiday not only for trick-or-treating and for adults to socialize at costume parties," said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Ted Tingey. " … But it can turn deadly or tragic because someone [drove under the influence]."
Law enforcement ran the same campaign with the zombie group two years ago. Officers felt great about the event, which was proactive and put both a humorous twist and a human touch to agencies that people tend to see as out to get them, Tingey said. And they are — if you drink and drive, he added.
"During the Halloween season, law enforcement steps up patrols, increasing checkpoints to ensure that Utah streets are safe and drivers stay alcohol-free," according to the release.
On Friday, Centerville police are conducting a DUI checkpoint, then Ogden police will do the same Saturday night. On Halloween night, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office will conduct its own checkpoint, Tingey said.
The zombie campaign is the latest in a series of DUI events that Utah agencies have tried around major holidays. Before this, officers handed out specially designed BBQ sauces and spatulas around Labor Day to people attending a Ute football game.
Officers found people still using the sauces and spatulas when they returned to the tailgates a couple of weeks later, Tingey said.
"These campaigns are working," the sergeant said. "People are listening."
Of the 217 driving fatalities in Utah last year, 20 were alcohol-related. That’s down from 39 in 2011, he added. "We are making great strides and people are getting the message."
But like with zombies, you cannot let your guard down and get complacent. Thirty-four people have died around the holiday in the 10 years that UHP has tracked those statistics. That makes Halloween the fourth-deadliest holiday in the past decade.
"When drivers fail to be responsible, those few glasses of alcohol can quickly turn a fun evening into a scary nightmare," UHP Col. Daniel Fuhr warned in a statement. "Plan before you go out, and remember, whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s just not worth the risk."
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