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Labor Day weekend: Law enforcement to be out in ‘full force’

By Staff | Aug 31, 2017

With the Labor Day weekend set to kick off, law enforcement authorities have a few tips to keep residents and visitors safe during the long holiday.

Since Aug. 17, the Cape Coral Police Department and other agencies have been participating in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over safety campaign. The annual effort runs through Sept. 4.

“Labor Day is historically one of the most dangerous holiday weekends for serious injury crashes and deaths,” Cpl. Phil Mullen, spokesman for the CCPD, said.

While no special operations are planned, police will be out in full force.

“We will have all of our patrol guys out there and traffic,” he said. “They’ll be out there looking for reckless drivers and DUIs.”

Those planning to take part in holiday libations are urged to have a designated driver.

“Have a designated driver, whether that’s a person in your group that’s not partaking or a taxi or ride service,” Mullen said.

Do not allow friends who have been drinking to drive. Officials recommended that people take a taxi, use a ride share app or rely on one of the many low-cost or “free ride” programs that are available.

“There’s a million different options these days to go out and have a good time and not drink and drive,” he said.

AAA and Budweiser are again offering the Tow to Go program today through 6 a.m. Tuesday for the holiday weekend. The aim is to help discourage intoxicated drivers from getting behind the wheel.

“Labor Day weekend is a great opportunity to get together with friends and family. Please plan ahead to make sure all of your loved ones get home safely, especially when alcohol is involved,” Amy Stracke, executive director for AAA’s Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Foundation, said in a prepared statement.

The program provides a confidential ride to the intoxicated driver – and a tow for their vehicle – to their home or to a safe location within a 10-mile radius. The service is free and available to anyone.

Drivers do not have to be a AAA member to utilize the program.

“The Tow To Go program is an effective way to promote the use of designated drivers and help prevent impaired driving,” Katja Zastrow, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility for Anheuser-Busch, said in a prepared statement.

To use the Tow to Go program, call 855-2-TOW-2-GO (855-286-9246).

While AAA has discontinued its formal travel forecasts for Labor Day, officials reported that approximately 35.5 million Americans traveled during the holiday weekend in 2015.

“If we were to estimate the total traveler volume for Labor Day, purely based on the rate of growth for Memorial and Independence Day holidays, a fair estimate would be that more than 37.25 million Americans will travel for Labor Day 2017,” AAA travel expert Mark Jenkins said.

He added that the estimate is the highest figure since 2008.

“That is solely based on the average year-over-year growth rates for Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays,” Jenkins said. “This is not based on our usual formal study, which considers on a wide range of economic factors.”

Officials also urged the public to buckle up to stay safe over the holiday weekend.

“Seat belts are a definite,” Mullen said. “Wear your seat belt.”

Drivers should keep their speed down and obey all traffic laws.

“The other big portion of that is distracted driving,” he said. “Make sure you’re not texting and driving.”

For longer trips, Mullen suggested using hands-free mapping apps and such.

“Things that don’t take your attention from the road,” he said.

Distracted drivers have been known to weave within their lane and even drift out of it.

“Distracted drivers pretty much look like drunk drivers,” Mullen said.

As part of the national safety campaign, the Florida Highway Patrol will concentrate enforcement efforts on impaired driving. Troopers will be out in force on the highways to aid motorists and remove drivers from the road. Auxiliary troopers are volunteering to augment the FHP during the holiday.

Officials offered the following safety tips for the holiday weekend:

* Drive sober; never drive impaired.

* Buckle up, every time.

* If you do drink, plan ahead. Designate a sober driver or use a ride service.

* If you see an impaired driver on the road, call *FHP (*347).

“Impaired driving puts drivers, passengers and pedestrians at risk, and each year it claims the lives of too many people,” Col. Gene S. Spaulding, director of the FHP, said in a prepared statement. “If you drink, be responsible and have a designated driver to get you to your destination safely. There is never an excuse for impaired driving.”