(Gillette, Wyo.) Entities from the Gillette and Campbell County Communities met this morning as members of the DUI Task Force discussed how to further eliminate the escalating number of impaired drivers on public roadways by increasing visual messages and law enforcement presence.
County Commissioner Rusty Bell said that the increased number of DUI’s was a cause for concern. In August of last year, he stated that there were 44 individuals arrested for DUI.
In August of this year, that number climbed to 66.
“It was not a good August,” Bell said.
Residents of Campbell County also bear some misgivings.
According to Ernie Johnson, facilitator of the Governor’s Council on Impaired Driving, a recent poll indicated that over 90 percent of Campbell County Residents expressed their concern for the growing number of impaired drivers.
“We’re still seeing a lot DUI’s out there,” said Police Chief Jim Hloucal. He also told of the police department’s intent to combat the growing number of DUI’s by increasing the number of hours their officers are on the street and implementing new programs, such as the DUI 24/7 Program.
The task force seemed to be in agreement regarding the positive effect of not only increasing the presence of law enforcement, but also implementing the 24/7 Program. However, law enforcement cannot be in all places at all times.
Travis Sylvester with Sylvestri Customizations said that people would need to see the visual messages displayed on five, strategically placed and designed, billboards. He said he would like to think people would be able to use their own intelligence to not drive impaired.
“You will get caught,” Sylvester warned, saying that a high percentage of Wyoming residents that drive drunk are caught and subsequently arrested.
Furthermore, Ken Musser of Target Signs said that there are currently nine billboards placed around the county and that the messages, could potentially receive up to 5,000 views as individuals drive past them.
Ernie Johnson stated in a separate interview that the likelihood of the billboards preventing a high number of drivers from driving impaired was decently elevated.
“Billboards have a greater reach than T.V.,” he said.
Musser felt that ads could potentially become too “busy.” He did not want to propose subliminal messaging and echoed Sylvester’s approach to allow people to utilize their own intelligence to interpret the ads.
The digital messages on the billboards will be further complemented by the DUI Task Force’s use of social media to help reduce the number of drunk drivers.
Social media is being utilized to connect the local community together in such a way that it has driven the amount of views of local resources, such as pictures, up by 20 percent, says Sylvester.
The numbers speak for themselves, the community is reaching out saying that the number of DUI’s is a problem and that they don’t support it.
As the task force continues to use local resources to spread its message, the positive reaction to the approach is unmistakable, Sylvester reported.
“At the end of the day, people want to connect with their neighbors,” said Sylvester.
In the future, the task force hopes to have the opportunity to start using local DUI narratives to further drive down the number of impaired drivers.