During the often heavily traveled Labor Day weekend, California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers warned this week that they "will be out in force, keeping a close eye on the roads, and enforcing the law to keep motorists safe."
In a statement issued Wednesday, CHP spokespersons said the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend is a "Maximum Enforcement Period" (MEP) for the CHP, beginning Friday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m. through Monday, Sept. 3 at 11:59 p.m.
Throughout the MEP, CHP spokespersons say all available officers will be on patrol, "cracking down on impaired drivers, speeders, and those who are a danger to themselves and others on the state’s roadways."
During last year’s Labor Day weekend, CHP spokespersons said 29 people were killed in traffic collisions across California - a 38 percent increase from the previous year, adding that 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 around 1,500 arrests for impaired driving during every Labor Day weekend MEP, CHP spokespersons report.
"Californians who drink alcohol are highly encouraged to designate a non-drinking driver in advance of the weekend, and we remind motorists to call 9-1-1 to report suspected drunk drivers," Farrow added.
“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 destinations.”
The CHP offers the following safety tips to help keep drivers and motorcycle riders safe during the Labor Day holiday weekend:
- Designate a non-drinking driver in advance, or plan for alternative transportation if you will be consuming alcohol. If hosting a party, provide non-alcoholic drinks for the designated driver.
- 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 speeding to get somewhere.
- Get plenty of rest and, if possible, coordinate with your passengers so that no one is driving while fatigued.
CHP also took the opportunity this week to observe California’s "move over or slow down" law. It requires motorists and motorcycle riders to change to another freeway lane or, when not able to, to slow to "a reasonable and prudent speed, to 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.