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FHP AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
JOIN FORCES FOR LABOR DAY WEEKEND

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Major Ken Howes
Florida Highway Patrol

For Release August 28, 1997

Part of National Enforcement Effort

TALLAHASSEE - Florida Highway Patrol troopers and local law enforcement officers will join forces throughout Florida during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend to minimize traffic deaths and injuries associated with the final summer holiday of the sea son. "Law enforcement will be taking a zero tolerance approach toward drunk and aggressive drivers, and those who continue to refuse to use safety belts and child restraints," said Colonel Ron Grimming, Director of FHP. The 96-hour Labor Day holiday per iod will begin at 0001 hours Friday, August 29th, and end at midnight Monday, September 1st.

Law enforcement officers in all 50 states are gearing up for the long Labor Day holiday weekend with warnings of strict enforcement of traffic laws, including those requiring motorists to buckle up. The stepped up patrols are part of Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a nationwide enforcement effort designed to heighten public awareness of intensified enforcement activities across the United States.

Operation C.A.R.E. is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to NHTSA, traffic crashes in the United States claim one life every 12 minutes. Traffic injuries are the leading cause of all injury deaths and cost the nation $150.5 billion annually, including $17 billion in medical care costs.

In Florida, enforcement crackdowns will begin Friday night, August 29th, with 13 DUI checkpoints and six enforcement "Wolfpacks" planned throughout the state. Friday night's enforcement activities are part of the BOOZE IT AND LOSE IT campaign, and will involve hundreds of state, county, and municipal law enforcement officers working together to reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths this weekend. During last year's Labor Day holiday, 50% of the state's 22 traffic deaths were alcohol-related. "Drivers w ho are convicted of DUI face paying thousands of dollars in fines, court costs, attorney fees, and other related costs. License revocation, jail time, and possibly even loss of employment are other consequences resulting from making a decision to drive a fter drinking alcoholic beverages," Grimming added.

Friday also marks the beginning of the sixth enforcement wave of OPERATION BELTWAY, a multi-agency occupant protection enforcement campaign designed to increase Florida's safety belt compliance rate. OPERATION BELTWAY began in March, 1996, and will cont inue through December, 1998. During the first five enforcement waves of OPERATION BELTWAY (a total of 9 weeks), the coalition of officers representing over 130 agencies issued 225,000 citations, including 52,151 for safety belt and child restraint citati ons, and over 5,500 arrests for DUI. Also, close to 900 fugitives were apprehended during the 9-week period.

TRAFFIC TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAY

  1. Don't drink and drive. Remember: impairment begins with the first drink by affecting judgment. After that, bad decisions are made about driving. 50% of the 1996 Labor Day deaths were alcohol-related.

  2. Leave early and return home early. During the 1996 Labor Day period, 22 people lost their lives in traffic crashes. 60% of the deaths occurred after dark. Night time driving is more dangerous and with the added holiday traffic, it becomes even more deadly.

  3. Do not drive while you are fatigued. Many of those who travel during the holiday weekend will begin their journey on Friday afternoon after working a full day. The same holds true on the return trip home. Motorists will wait until the last minute to drive home and will again face night time driving, fatigue, and a higher probability of impaired drivers.

  4. Buckle your safety belts!. One half of those drivers and passengers that died last year during the holiday, that had safety belts available were not using them.

  5. Place children in child seats and in the back seat. Children have been seriously injured or killed during the vehicle air bag deployments. The best place in the car to place children out of harms way is in the back seat, preferably in the center.

  6. OPERATION BELTWAY STATS - WAVE #1 THROUGH #5 (NINE WEEKS)

    SAFETY BELT CITATIONS47,778
    CHILD RESTRAINT CITATIONS4,573
    SPEEDING CITATIONS69,465
    WRECKLESS DRIVING1,792
    UNINSURED MOTORISTS6,474
    DUI5,573
    OTHER TRAFFIC ARRESTS/CITATIONS84,783
    DRUG ARRESTS2,644
    OTHER FELONY ARRESTS1,105
    FUGITIVES APPREHENDED883

    CURRENT FLORIDA SAFETY BELT USAGE RATE: 62%

     


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