Labor Day weekend is fast approaching, the highly anticipated last “hurrah” of summer. If you are planning a barbeque or party please keep in mind that California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are observing a Maximum Enforcement Period in an effort to keep motorists safe from those driving under the influence or breaking traffic laws.
Beginning Friday, August 31 at 6 p.m. all available officers will be on patrol cracking down on anyone who is driving dangerously. Specifically our local Sheriff’s Department has planned a DUI checkpoint and additional DUI patrols. The MEP ends Monday, September 3 at 11:59 p.m.
With law enforcement and highway workers keeping the freeways safe this weekend, drivers are also reminded of California’s move over or slow down law. Motorists and motorcycle riders are required to change lanes or slow to a reasonable speed and cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the freeway. The law applies to authorized emergency vehicles, tow trucks, or Department of Transportation vehicles when displaying flashing emergency lights or amber warning lights.
Emergencies are unfortunately common. During last year’s Labor Day weekend, 29 people were killed in traffic collisions across California, a 38 percent increase from the previous year. Motorists choosing not to wear safety equipment contributed to the drastic increase in casualties.
“It is very disheartening to know that 19 people lost their lives last Labor Day weekend as a result of not wearing their seat belt,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “What a tremendous price to pay for something that is entirely preventable.”
The CHP averages 1,500 arrests for impaired driving every Labor Day weekend. Last year the Santa Clarita Valley had five DUI arrests during the MEP.
“Impaired driving is more than a social issue, it is a criminal issue,” said Farrow. “As motorists travel throughout California, I want them to know the CHP will be out in force, working hard to remove impaired drivers and motorcycle riders from the roads. Our goal is for everyone to get safely to their destination.”
LA County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Shapiro encourages people to have a transportation plan before they even begin to drink. It is the best way to keep all motorists safe.
“Have a plan before you start to drink,” he said. “Because once you start to drink that plan starts to disappear, and you’re not thinking as clearly… If you know you’re going to go out someplace drinking, you can call a cab… You can have a designated driver, and then you can call and set up your drive home before you start drinking.”
In addition, the CHP offers the following tips to help keep drivers and motorcycle riders safe during this holiday weekend:
Buckle up or wear proper safety equipment, depending on your mode of travel.
Establish and enforce a distraction-free zone behind the wheel.
Leave plenty of time to get to your destination, so you are not rushed and tempted to speed.
Get plenty of rest and, if possible, coordinate with your passengers so that no one is driving while fatigued.
Always remember that if you suspect a drunk driver, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1. You are protecting yourself and other motorists by alerting deputies to unsafe drivers.