Officers will be out in force this Thanksgiving Day weekend in Stanislaus County and throughout the state looking for speeders, drunken drivers and those who don’t buckle up. The holiday enforcement includes a West Coast campaign hoping to save lives along Interstate 5.
Saturation patrols will hit the streets Friday night and Saturday night in Modesto, with officers who are assigned solely to look for drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The police patrols will focus on areas throughout the city with a large number of DUI crashes or arrests.
“This is a zero-tolerance crackdown, so drive sober or get pulled over,” said Modesto police Traffic Unit Sgt. Craig Breckenridge in a news release.
There will be as many California Highway Patrol officers on the road as possible over the four-day holiday weekend as part of the agency’s maximum enforcement period. The enforcement started Wednesday evening and continues through late Sunday.
Thanksgiving typically is one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, so the CHP urged travelers to leave early for their destinations.
“As the volume of traffic on the roadways increases, so does the risk of being involved in serious or deadly collision,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow in a news release.
Last year, 44 people died in crashes over the Thanksgiving weekend in California, which is a 37 percent increase from 2011, according to the CHP. About 40 percent of the 25 people who died in 2012 within the CHP’s jurisdiction were not wearing seat belts.
“The simple act of using a seat belt or child safety seat every time you get into a vehicle can be the difference between life and death in the event of a collision,” Farrow said in the news release.
Along with enforcing seat belt laws, the CHP will keep an eye out for drunken drivers. Last year, CHP officers arrested more than 1,300 people on suspicion of driving under the influence.
The CHP has joined the Oregon State Police and the Washington State Patrol in the Interstate 5 Challenge, a traffic safety campaign designed to pull unsafe drivers off the road along the busy West Coast corridor. The campaign’s motto is “Arrive Alive on I-5,” and the effort continues through late Sunday.
More than 1,300 miles in length, I-5 averages more than 14,000 crashes a year. The campaign has set a goal of zero crash deaths over the holiday weekend. Along with seat belts and drunken drivers, the state officers will be looking for speeders and aggressive drivers.
“A majority of collisions and roadway deaths are preventable if motorists follow basic traffic safety rules,” Farrow said in the news release. “Enjoy the holidays but remember: Always wear a seat belt, drive at a speed safe for roadway conditions, eliminate distractions while driving and always designate a sober driver.”
Law enforcement officials throughout the state encourage drivers to call 911 to report an impaired driver on the road.