Labor Day weekend is approaching and it will mark the end of summer. Everyone will be out trying to enjoy the last major holiday of the summer. When planning for the holiday, everyone should remember to be safe.
The weekend of Aug. 14-16 was one of the deadliest weekends in Missouri history with 17 fatalities and the Missouri State Highway Patrol wants to encourage the public to keep safety in mind.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Spokesperson Corporal Juston Weetley said it was one of the worst weekends that they have encountered in years for fatalities at one time.
“A lot of that is contributed to inattention, distracted driving and not wearing a seat belt,” said Wheetley. “There were several people that were ejected from the vehicle that could possibly have survived if they had buckled up inside their car.”
Wheetley said that with it being the last major holiday of summer, they know a lot of people will be out trying to enjoy it. Traffic is going to be up and he always encourages people to give themselves plenty of time to get to where they are going.
“Drivers need to be aware of their surroundings and realize that there will be more traffic,” said Wheetley. “With a lot of the holidays there are a lot of alcohol-related incidents that include car crashes and boating incidents. The patrol asks that if people are going to get out and drinking is part of their holiday weekend, to get a sober designated driver.”
Besides there being an increase in alcohol-related crashes, distracted driving is another issue, whether it is texting, eating or drinking while driving.
In 2014, six people were killed and 369 injured throughout Missouri over the Labor Day holiday in 901 traffic crashes. Out of that total, troopers worked 274 traffic crashes, which included 120 injuries and three of the fatalities over the 2014 Labor Day holiday. Troopers also arrested 94 people for driving while intoxicated during last year’s holiday weekend.
In addition to traffic safety, boating safety should be observed as well. Wheetley said that if your holiday plans include going to the rivers he recommends wearing life jackets because there has been a lot of flooding.
“There will be a lot of debris washing into the water, so it’s best to wear a life jacket, especially for children," said Wheetley. “Drownings are up this year compared to past years because of all the flooding that we have had. We recommend to always wear a life jacket if you’re going to be out on a boat and if you’re driving, put down the phones and get where you are going safely.”
In 2014, there were 13 boating crashes with five injuries and zero fatalities. There were no drownings. Troopers arrested 14 people for boating while intoxicated during last year's counting period. In an effort to increase safety on our state’s waters, all available officers will be working over the holiday weekend.
Missouri’s boaters are asked to do their part by remaining alert for other boats and swimmers, and being courteous on the water. With more boats on the water, it is even more important to pay attention when operating a vessel.
The 2015 counting period for the Labor Day holiday will start on Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. and run through Sept. 7 at 11:59 p.m.
The Highway Patrol will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) over the Labor Day holiday weekend. All available officers will be patrolling Missouri’s roadways enforcing Missouri’s speed limit, seat belt, and alcohol laws, in addition to being available to assist motorists.
Troopers throughout the state will participate in a special enforcement operation on Sept. 4 and again on Sept. 7. This operation will include Interstates 29, 44, 55, and 70, and U.S. Highways 60 and 61. Troopers will be targeting all traffic violations, and be especially vigilant of aggressive driving violations.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or email@example.com