Troopers Work to Reduce Holiday Deaths

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) for the Labor Day Holiday, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 31, and ending at midnight Monday, September 3. During the 2006 Labor Day holiday, 10 people were killed and 309 were seriously injured on Oklahoma roads.

"Half of the fatality victims in 2006 were not wearing their safety belts," said Trooper Kera Philippi, OHP spokesperson. "We always stress the importance of seatbelts, but people still fail to listen. When seatbelts are not in use, people die."

OHP Troopers will be out in full force this weekend patrolling our highways and waterways, and will be paying special attention to drunk drivers, reckless drivers, speeders and those not wearing safety belts, as well as any reckless activity on the lakes.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is also participating in the National "Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest." campaign, which began August 18 and ends September 4. This campaign focuses on the importance of getting impaired drivers off the road. "This year we are asking the public to join us in our efforts to rid our roadways of drunk drivers. We urge motorists to report erratic driving by calling *55 on their cell phone, and to provide a description of the vehicle, its location and direction of travel," said Trooper Philippi.

"Thousands of Oklahomans will spend the holiday on area lakes, and we encourage our citizens to follow a few simple safety tips," said Captain Jess Henry, Troop Commander of the OHP Lake Patrol Division. "Boaters should have the required equipment such as life jackets, personal floatation devices, fire extinguisher and navigation lights after sunset. Every child 12 or under is required to wear a life jacket."

The majority of boat crashes are the result of inattention and alcohol consumption. Stressors on the water such as the glare of the sun and heat intensify the effects of alcohol. "It is just as dangerous to operate water craft while intoxicated as it is to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The penalties are the same, including jail time, loss of your driving privileges, fines and court costs," Captain Henry said. "Please keep a proper lookout while underway and watch for children in the water at all times, especially when near shores or docks. Also, because of recent flooding, many obstacles that were formerly visible are now just below the surface, and there is a good chance of encountering debris in the water."

"This is the time of year when thousands of families pack up their vehicles and head out on vacation. Once the barbecue is over, you still have to get home safely," Trooper Philippi said. "Alcohol was a contributing factor in 10 percent of the 495 crashes during the 2006 Labor Day holiday. Please do your part to ensure your trip ends up in your scrapbook and not in our logbook. Slow down, buckle up, and don't drink and drive. If you are over the limit, you are under arrest."