Police brace for hectic holiday

May 21, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

Tri-State area state police will be out in force this weekend in an effort to make the roads safer over Memorial Day weekend.

Lt. Donnie Knott of the Maryland State Police in Hagerstown said extra troopers will be on the road in Washington County from midnight Thursday to midnight Monday. They will be part of Operation Care, a statewide state police effort to reduce accidents over the weekend.

"The troopers will be concentrating on speed, driving while intoxicated, seatbelt violations and aggressive driving," Knott said.

Alcohol was a contributing factor in six of the 28 fatal accidents handled by county troopers in 1997, Knott said.

Troopers will cite drivers and passengers who aren't wearing their seatbelts, he said.

"We may even have some checkpoints to look for those violations," he said. "Troopers will be extra sensitive about children, making sure they're either in approved child safety seats or buckled up."


Four of the eight people killed on county highways so far this year might have survived had they been wearing seatbelts, Knott said.

Last Memorial Day weekend, there was one fatality in Washington County, state police said. Figures for Berkeley County, W.Va., and Franklin County, Pa., were not available.

Traffic in Berkeley County is expected to be heavy over the holiday, said Sgt. Rob Blair of the West Virginia State Police in Martinsburg.

"We're going to get as many troopers on the road as possible," he said. "We're going to be putting an emphasis on road control, speed limits and seatbelt and child safety seat compliance...Hopefully we won't have to write any tickets, but I doubt that's going to happen."

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg referred questions to headquarters in Harrisburg. Spokesman Jack Lewis said each troop in the state will have sobriety patrols to look for drunken drivers, special speed enforcement on interstates, and man a traffic checkpoint for seatbelt and child safety seat violations.

For those heading for Maryland's Eastern Shore, the State Highway Administration will deploy emergency traffic patrols to help motorists with problems.

The State Highway Administration expects the heaviest volume of shore-bound traffic along eastbound U.S. 50 on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Officials expect traffic to be heavy westbound on Sunday evening and all day Monday.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that 32.1 million Americans will travel 100 miles or more from their homes over the Memorial Day holiday.

The AAA said that in cars with airbags, drivers should sit at least 10 inches back from the steering wheel, and front-seat passengers should sit as far back from the dashboard as possible.

Passengers 12 years old and younger shouldtravel in the back seat and be secured either in a child safety seat or with lap and shoulder belts, the AAA said.

More: Holiday driving tips

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