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Keep your Labor Day travels safe

The Mississippi Highway Patrol will begin the 2017 Labor Day travel enforcement period on Friday at 6 p.m. and conclude Monday at midnight.

Because traffic is expected to be heavy and roadways wet from Tropical Strom Harvey, troopers will emphasize saturation patrols to try to cut down on speeding and reckless driving. Motorists planning to travel should inspect their wiper blades to make sure they aid with visibility in the rain, and their tires to insure proper tread depth to avoid hydroplaning on wet surfaces.

Additional safety checkpoints will be established by MHP to check for proper seatbelt usage and to remove impaired drivers from the roadways. Drivers should avoid text messaging or any other distractions that could endanger lives while traveling.

MHP investigated 170 crashes during the 2016 Labor Day enforcement period, including one fatality. Four people were killed in the state in crashes during the 2015 Labor Day enforcement period. While this is a marked improvement over the 15 fatalities of the 2013 holiday weekend, the goal is absolute safety and no lives lost.

“We’re hoping all motorists and families will enjoy the last holiday weekend of the summer,” said Capt. Johnny Poulos, director of MHP’s public affairs division, “and arrive at their destinations safely.”

Local law enforcement will also be monitoring streets and roads in Brookhaven and Lincoln County for drinking and driving. The highway patrol, sheriff’s department and police department will all be vigilant throughout the holiday and warn anyone planning on drinking to stay off the roads.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said deputies will be adding extra patrols as needed on the county roads this holiday weekend.

“Patrol officers will be out monitoring traffic for any impaired drivers in addition to their normal patrol duties,” said Rushing.

Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins said patrols will be upped in neighborhoods and in shopping areas. Police will be looking to make sure those in cars are properly restrained, especially children.

“Stay vigilant. Watch out for one another,” Collins said. “Be aware of your surroundings. If you see something, say something. We’ve got to take care of one another.”

Cpl. Brandon Fortenberry with Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop M said that in District 9 all available troopers will be working. District 9, which is monitored by Troop M, includes Lincoln, Adams, Amite, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Pike, Walthall and Wilkinson counties.

“All available manpower will be out to enforce seat belt usage and remove impaired drivers from the roadways,” said Fortenberry. “We also are going to enforce speeding and reckless driving.”

The Mississippi Department of Transportation recommends some ways to guarantee a safe trip for your holiday weekend.

• Slow down. It will cost you if you don’t. Always avoid speeding, especially through designated work zones.

• Buckle up. Somebody needs you, so fasten your seatbelt.

• Don’t drink and drive. Nobody wins if you do. If you plan on drinking, also plan on having a designated driver to ensure the safety of everyone.

• Share the rules and share the road. Watch out for motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, children and animals.

• Use caution and avoid all distractions while traveling Mississippi’s highways.

“Safety is top priority,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT executive director. “Stay safe, have fun and make memories.”