Troopers work to reduce holiday deaths

Once again the Oklahoma Highway Patrol will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) for the Labor Day Holiday, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 1st and ending at midnight Monday, September 4th. There were nine fatalities reported during the 2005 Labor Day holiday weekend, the same number of fatalities from 2004.

"Each of the nine victims in 2005 were not wearing their safety belts," said Trooper Kera Philippi, "We always stress the importance of seatbelts but people still fail to listen. When seatbelts are not in use, people lose their lives. These numbers prove that reality and hopefully this will get the attention of drivers and passengers."

OHP officials cancel days off for the holiday and Troopers will be out in full force this weekend patrolling the highways and waterways enforcing the laws. They will be paying special attention to drunk drivers, reckless driving, speeders and those not wearing safety belts as well as any reckless activity on area lakes.

With increased holiday travel, drivers need to get plenty of rest before they begin their travel. "If a driver becomes sleepy we encourage them to pull over and take a break, a power nap, or just get a cup of coffee, whatever it takes to keep them alert while driving", said Philippi.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is also participating in the National "Drunk Driving. Over The Limit. Under Arrest" campaign. The campaign "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest", began on August 18th and ends September 4th. It emphasizes the importance of getting the impaired drivers off the road. "Our goal is to have no fatalities at all for this Labor Day weekend," said Philippi.

"Thousands of Oklahomans will spend the holiday on area lakes and we encourage the citizens to follow a few simple safety tips," said Philippi. "Boaters should have the required equipment such as life jackets, personal floatation devices, fire extinguisher and navigation lights for after sunset. Oklahoma law requires all children 12 years of age or younger wear an approved PDF whenever underway in a boat less than 26 feet."

The majority of boat crashes are a result of not paying attention and alcohol consumption. Stressors on the water such as the glare of the sun and heat may intensify the effects of alcohol. "It is wise to keep a proper lookout while underway and watch for children at all times when near shores or docks," said Philippi.

"Labor Day weekend is a time to have fun and enjoy family and friends, but to have fun you have to arrive safely," said Philippi. "So slow down and buckle up."

Remember: "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." is not just a title, it's reality.