Police going extra mile for holidays

September 01, 2000

Police going extra mile for holidays

By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer

Area police are hoping motorists will take it easy on Tri-State area highways during the last holiday weekend of summer.

State police in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania plan to increase visibility and crack down on reckless and drunken driving.

Gasoline prices are hovering around $1.50 a gallon this year. Last Labor Day, $1.22 a gallon was the norm, and in 1998 fuel was still under $1 a gallon.

Operation CARE - Combined Accident Reduction Effort - is the name given the extra effort to save lives, especially on high-volume holiday weekends.

"We will have extra personnel out there on the road ... including personnel who don't normally work on the road," said Sgt. Kevin Lewis of the Maryland State Police in Hagerstown.


Last year during the Labor Day weekend, two people died in Maryland car crashes, down from six the year before.

Troopers issued more than 2,800 speeding tickets, 1,000-plus seat belt and child safety seat violations/warnings and 170 tickets for drunken driving, state police said.

In Frederick County, holiday patrols will be boosted. There will also be a sobriety checkpoint on Sept. 8 to target underage drinkers.

State police in Frederick say more than 10 percent of all intoxicated drivers are under 21, the legal drinking age in Maryland.

West Virginia State Police in Martinsburg will concentrate on traffic patrols whenever possible, especially around the congested construction zones between Martinsburg and Falling Waters in both the northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 81.

"We want motorists to slow down over this holiday weekend," said Sgt. D.D. Forman at the West Virginia barrack in Bardane.

So far in 2000, 11 people have been killed in traffic accidents on Washington County roads, according to Maryland State Police statistics.

That compares with 13 fatalities last year, 17 during the same period in 1998 and 24 deaths through Labor Day 1997.

In Frederick County, nine highway deaths have been recorded so far this year, up from 21 in 1999, 18 in 1998 and 17 in 1997, according to state police records.

Police will target speeders, aggressive drivers, drunken and drugged drivers and violators of the seatbelt and child safety seat laws.

Cpl. Robert Marshall at the Pennsylvania State Police barrack in Chambersburg said his troopers will also be out in force.

"We take this holiday enforcement very seriously, but especially with the aggressive driver," Marshall said.

With some people, Labor Day weekend represents the "last hurrah" to get in summer activities, and Marshall said that can affect driving habits.

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