Holiday weekend travelers planning to drink, drive and shout profanities may want to think again.
More troopers will be prowling the area’s roadways this weekend as the Highway Patrol braces for the beginning of the “100 Deadly Days of Summer,” a period of time spanning Memorial Day to Labor Day when more people die on the state’s roadways than during any other time of the year.
Last year, 30 people died in road accidents during the 100-day period, said Lance Cpl. Billy Elder of the S.C. Highway Patrol.
Starting today, troopers will look for “aggressive” drivers prone to frustration behind the wheel, Elder said.
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Because it’s a holiday weekend, Elder said troopers will be holding license checks and sobriety tests. They’ve also arranged with local police agencies to add more manpower in areas where, previously, there may not have been any.
“We’ve had schedules adjusted to make sure we can have the most (troopers) out during the weekend period,” he said. “We’re hoping to hit not only the congested areas, but to also have troopers in areas that may not routinely see a trooper.”
Members of the patrol’s administrative staff will take on enforcement duties this weekend, Elder said, and cover their own “stretch of roadway.”
AAA Carolinas predicts that 34.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home between today and Monday. That represents a 1.2 percent increase in weekend holiday travel for the South Atlantic region compared to this time last year.
Troopers aren’t just focusing on major highways and interstates.
People will fill city streets to take advantage of longer days and hotter weather, Elder said, meaning there will be more pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists competing for room on the road.
“We’re going to have a lot more vulnerable roadway users,” he said.
Last Memorial Day weekend, seven people died in automobile accidents statewide. The Highway Patrol investigated 61 crashes in York, Chester and Lancaster counties last Memorial Day, but there were no fatalities.
There were 25 driving under the influence cases during the holiday weekend last year, Elder said.
So far this year, the Highway Patrol has investigated 215 DUI cases and 1,100 crashes in York County alone.
In the past three years, there haven’t been any fatalities on roads in York, Chester and Lancaster counties during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Elder said.
But, he says travelers shouldn’t adopt a false sense of security.
“We’re not wanting people to let their guard down.”
With summer heat comes summer storms, which Ralph Merchant says means power outages are inevitable and street lights might be affected.
“It’s just crazy when you see people ... fly through these huge intersections,” said Merchant, operations manager for York County public safety communications. “Even the small ones are dangerous.”
A trend that’s troubled Merchant is witnessing people take too many chances when traffic on the roads is congested, especially when they’re traveling for the holiday.
AAA Carolinas recently reported that South Carolina has the lowest gas prices in the nation.
Because of that, “I think more people will travel in local areas you’ll probably see them on the road visiting local areas and Carowinds, or the lake,” Merchant said.
Read more here: http://www.heraldonline.com/2012/05/24/3999570/more-troopers-more-drivers-to.html#storylink=cpy