July 4th 2010
Oklahoma troopers will cover more miles to insure public safety over the holiday weekend.
Commissioner of public safety Kevin L. Ward today lifted a 100 mile per shift restriction imposed since last year due to budget shortfalls significantly affecting the Department of Public Safety (DPS), and many other state agencies. "Changes at the DPS such as a comprehensive re-organization, a downsizing of the agencies aviation unit, and an employee voluntary buy-out are just a few things that helped to off-set the need for the mileage restriction," said Ward, commissioner of public safety.
Officials believe lifting the restriction in conjunction with a major holiday such as independence day is a good thing for public safety, and makes for great timing with increased summer travel. " Our troopers won't be hampered by mileage restrictions insuring that we can provide the service our citizens deserve and expect of our troopers," said Colonel Van M. Guillotte, chief of the patrol.
Over the weekend, Oklahoma troopers will join the ranks of many state police and highway patrol agencies participating with Operation C.A.R.E (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) - a nationwide campaign by state police agencies to reduce fatalities during holiday periods. This year the enforcement campaign will begin on Friday at 6 pm, and end on Monday at midnight. "Troopers from all over the country will be patrolling roadways targeting speeders, drunk drivers, and seatbelt violators," said Captain Chris West, spokesperson for the highway patrol.
"Our troopers will be out in full force to insure that drivers are complying with the law. Alcohol offenses, speeding, and restraint violations have always been the leading causes of fatalities during the summer months, that's why we focus so much of our resources on these violations." West said.
The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reported five fatalities and 238 people injured in 353 crashes during the 3 day 4th of July holiday period in 2009. Three of the fatality crashes last year were alcohol related, killing three people, and two died in motorcycle crashes. "The key to making this holiday weekend a safe weekend is to drive responsibly, West said. "Use a designated driver if you plan on consuming alcohol, and always wear a safety belt, " said West.
The 4th of July holiday period also means congestion on area lakes. Lieutenant Kurt Mckean of the patrols lake division, urges boaters to use caution and observe navigation rules. Four drowning's occurred last year over the fourth, we've had one (01) drowning in may, and seven (07) in the month of June this year," said Mckean. "Boaters are reminded that the rules of the water apply the same as the rules of the road with the exception of stop signs, yield signs, and traffic lights. Therefore, boating and drinking don't mix. If you are arrested for boating under the influence you are subject to fines and jail time."
No one under the age of 13 may solely operate a personal water craft (Jet-Ski, Wet-Bike, Seadoo, etc...) , and there must be an appropriately sized coastguard approved life jacket for every person in the boat.
Nationally, more people are injured in boating collisions during the 4th of July weekend than any other weekend of the year.