By CRISTIN REECE
In an effort to help Anderson County residents have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend, state and local law enforcement agencies are stepping up patrols through the holiday.
“We want to remind the public to be considerate of one another on the road and assign a designated driver if they decided to drink,” Palestine Police Department Lt. Jeff Powell said. “Drivers need to remember, too, sleepy driving and distracted driving are as bad as drunk driving, so get plenty of rest before a road trip and don’t text and drive.”
Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said county deputies also will be out in force for Labor Day weekend.
In addition, troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety will increase DWI patrols through Sept. 9. Troopers will focus DWI patrols in high-risk locations at times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent.
“Keeping Texas roadways safe for all travelers is a vital concern for DPS, and these increased patrols are designed to save lives by getting intoxicated drivers off the road,” DPS Director Steven McCraw stated in a release published on the department’s website, www.txdps.state.tx.us. “The Department urges drivers to mark the Labor Day holiday responsibly by utilizing safe driving practices and not drinking and driving.”
During the Labor Day enforcement effort last year, DPS troopers made 1,879 DWI arrests, and approximately 503 of those were the direct result of the increased patrols. Last year during this same time period, DPS enforcement also resulted in 24,779 speeding citations, 3,890 seat belt/child safety seat citations and 4,062 no insurance tickets. In addition, troopers made 1,238 fugitive arrests, 895 felony arrests and 889 drug arrests during routine patrol operations.
The enhanced patrols are funded through a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which has also kicked off its “Drink. Drive. Go To Jail’ campaign for the holiday.
“Summer celebrations oftentimes involve alcohol, and this is especially the time when we see a rise in fatalities on Texas roads,” Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director, stated in a press release provided to the Herald Press.
“Unfortunately, the problem has gotten even deadlier over the Labor Day weekend. If your Labor Day activities involve alcohol, you should plan for a sober ride home before leaving your house. Otherwise, you run the risk of killing yourself and others, or going to jail. Either way, you can’t afford it,” Wilson said.
According to TxDOT statistics, 411 alcohol-related fatalities occurred in Texas during the 2012 summer months of May through August. Additionally, during the Labor Day holiday reporting period, alcohol-related traffic fatalities more than doubled from eight in 2011 to 19 in 2012.