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2 Minute Tuesday: Lance Corporal Jeff Gaskin, Highway Patrol

The last time New Year's Eve fell on a Wednesday was 2003, when state troopers worked 17 fatal wrecks through the weekend. So as the traditional party holiday approaches, the Highway Patrol is trying to avoid a repeat of that tragic year. Gaskin, a nine-year patrol veteran, talked with The Herald about what troopers plan to do during the holiday weekend and what citizens should do.

What will troopers be doing on New Year's Eve to ensure everyone is behaving themselves?

Our "Sober or Slammer" campaign ... will run all the way through this weekend. ... We'll have more troopers out on the road throughout the holiday period. We'll have troopers working flex scheduling. ... Troopers who would normally be off will be out patrolling to utilize all of our manpower. (We're doing) multi-jurisdictional checkpoints, meaning that we're teaming up with all other agencies.

What can people do to stay safe?

Use designated drivers. ... If you plan on consuming alcohol, plan to have a place to stay wherever you go. That way, you're not caught in a position where you have to drive. ... If you see some erratic driving, something that catches your attention, please don't hesitate to call *HP or dial 911 so that we can get a trooper or another officer in the area to check that vehicle out. ... Don't try to go celebrate, then make a long trip home. You want (people) to stay pretty close to where they're doing their celebrating at if it involves consuming alcoholic beverages.

What else can people do?

We need cooperation from the community. ... When they see someone who has been drinking too much and they're starting to get in a vehicle, it's your chance to try to take those keys from them and don't allow them to drive. ... Actually, citizens can do a lot to help out the fatality rate during this holiday period by just making good decisions.

People don't realize what impact these decisions could have, do they?

Any time we have a traffic fatality, that's somebody's son, that's somebody's daughter. That's somebody's mother, somebody's father. And these families, they live with this tragedy for years and years to come. ... It is so unbearable on the family when a loved one is lost in a traffic fatality ... most of which could have been prevented by just making some good decisions around the holidays.

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