Memorial Day

Troopers expect crowded roads despite hiked fuel prices.

Although the price of gasoline is higher than Oklahomans have ever seen, troopers are expecting an increase of travelers this weekend.

Oklahoma highway patrol troopers will hit the roads in increased numbers over the Memorial Day weekend in an effort to keep travelers safe. "Memorial Day weekend fatalities have been on a steady decline the past five years and we would like to see the trend continue," said Lieutenant Chris West, patrol spokesman.

Seven people died during the Memorial Day weekend last year. Of the seven fatalities in 2003, one was a motorcyclist. Of the remaining six fatalities, four were not using safety equipment. "We are well aware of the fact that safety belts save lives, and that's why we're participating with a nation-wide enforcement emphasis to target motorists who choose not to buckle up," said West.

The special emphasis known as "All American Buckle Up Week" coincides with the Memorial day weekend which is considered to be the kick off to the summer traveling season.

In addition to the "All American Buckle Up Week" campaign, troopers will also be participating with the "Operation C.A.R.E." (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) campaign which focuses enforcement on speed, driving under the influence and safety belt violations.

"Not only are troopers expecting high volumes of traffic on state roads, but we anticipate increased boating on our lakes as well," West said.

"Whether you are on the road or on the water, a designated driver makes sense. Alcohol affects people to a greater degree when stressors such as boat noise, water motion, and constant exposure to heat and sunlight are added," said West.

Eighty percent of boating fatalities involved operators with no boating safety education. "Knowing boating laws and navigational rules before you go to the lake can help prevent costly and tragic accidents," said West.

Every vessel is required to carry one U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket for each person on board. Life jackets must be in good serviceable condition, fit the person who intends to wear it and be readily accessible. Children 12 years of age or younger are required to wear a life jacket on boats 26 feet or less in length when the vessel is underway. "Life jackets are like safety belts - they can save your life," said West.

Boaters can save themselves time and frustration by doing their own safety check before going to the water, making sure they have all the required safety equipment.

The four day Memorial Day weekend will begin on Friday, May 28, 2004 and extends through midnight, Monday, May 31, 2004.