Troopers enforce safe driving during holiday weekend

Last year, 11 people died in vehicle crashes during the Memorial Day weekend, the same number as the previous year.

"Although that number is a decrease from the 16 reported in 1999, we are still concerned about the high number of deaths," said 2Lt. Brandon Kopepasah.

Two of the 11 deaths were motorcyclists, and seven of the remaining nine killed in vehicle crashes were not wearing safety belts. Three deaths were due to unsafe speed and six of the victims died in alcohol-related crashes.

"We know people are going to be drinking during the holiday, but we are urging them not to drive," said Kopepasah. "There will be thousands of people traveling to area lakes where they will gather with family and friends. We want them to enjoy the holiday with a safe trip to and from their destinations."

Troopers will be participating in the Combined Accident Reduction Effort with law enforcement agencies nationwide.

"As this is a designated CARE holiday, we will be making every effort to minimize accidents and injuries through speed, DUI and safety belt enforcement," said Kopepasah.

Troopers will not only be on the roads but on state lakes as well.

"It is also unlawful to operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol," said Kopepasah. "Troopers will be covering lakes statewide and boarding boats for inspection of required safety equipment."

During the 2001 holiday, there were a total of 13 boat crashes resulting in 14 injuries but there were no fatalities reported.

"Boaters can help avoid accidents and injury if they will give proper attention to equipping their vessels as required," said First Lieutenant Stan Roberts. "We are particularly concerned that everyone have on board has a life jacket."

Roberts said although there were no fatalities as the result of a boating accident, there was one swimmer who drowned last year.

"We can't stress enough the importance of wearing life jackets," said Roberts. "This is the first holiday of the summer travel season and their will be a large amount of boaters and swimmers. We encourage everyone to be mindful of safe water recreation."