Patrols looking for impaired drivers during Labor Day weekend

benw@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 30, 2013 

As the summer travel season ends this Labor Day weekend, the Columbus Police Department and other law enforcement agencies will keep an eye out for impaired drivers on the roadways.

“We are more vigilant and plan to increase traffic enforcement,” said Police Maj. Julius Graham, head of the Patrol Services Division.

About 29 million of the estimated 34.1 million travelers are expected to drive to their destination during the 78-hour holiday travel period which started at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at midnight Monday, according to AAA Travel. In 2012, Georgia authorities reported 13 traffic deaths and Alabama had six during the Labor Day weekend.

To keep the streets safe, Graham said road checks can occur even though police don’t announce the action in advance.

“We may plan something in advance of the holiday,” he said. “Just be prepared to produce the required documents — drivers license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.”

Officers will get help from the Georgia State Patrol in patrolling the roadways. “Working with the Georgia State Patrol is a collaborative effort to increase enforcement,” Graham said.

Compared with the Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays, traffic over the Labor Day weekend is expected to be the heaviest of the three summer holiday periods this year, said Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “This is the first weekend for regular season high school and college football games as well as special holiday events planned across the state that will all increase motor vehicle travel,” McDonough said in a release.

Troopers will be highly visible on patrols, watching for impaired drivers, seat belt violators and other offenses that could potentially cause a crash. “We want to make holiday travel as safe as possible,” the commissioner said.

The Georgia State Patrol is urging everyone to buckle up as part of the “Bee a Buckler” Safety Program. Gov. Nathan Deal has proclaimed the holiday weekend as “Bee a Buckler” Safe Driving Weekend throughout the state.

Across the Chattahoochee River, the Alabama Department of Public Safety said all available troopers will be part of this year’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign to promote highway safety.

While the holiday travel period runs through midnight Monday, Alabama Troopers will continue their enforcement efforts through midnight Tuesday. The extended enforcement is possible through a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs allowing troopers to work additional shifts.

“Partnering with other law enforcement agencies is important, but it is our partnership with motorists that is key to a successful enforcement campaign and safe holiday weekend,” said Col. Hugh B. McCall, director of Public Safety and the state’s highest ranking trooper.

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