Rangers on the prowl for impaired drivers in Zion this weekend

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SPRINGDALE, Utah - Rangers at Zion National Park will increase enforcement of drunk driving laws over the Fourth of July weekend, and they said it’s part of a cooperative effort to decrease fatalities on Utah roadways.

In 2010, more than 10,000 people died in crashes related to impaired driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That accounts for 31 percent of all traffic related deaths in the United States. That number has increased by 4.6 percent between 2011 and 2012. Park ranger Therese Picard said it’s an alarming trend.

“State fatalities for traffic already are at 104, in comparison to 87 from last year,” Picard said. “There’s been a lot of accidents, there’s been a lot of fatalities already.”

Picard said they’ll increase patrol hours, particularly in the evening to try to catch drunk drivers before crashes happen. They’ll also set up DUI checkpoints. Picard said the main goal is education, reminding visitors that DUI laws don’t go away once they enter the park gate.

“We’re part of that bigger picture of enforcement,” Picard said. “Trying to get folks to think about getting a designated driver and to stay off the road.”

Picard said as part of that message they’ll have zero tolerance, meaning anyone caught driving impaired will be arrested.