By WBTW Staff Reports
From the state of South Carolina - The South Carolina Department of Public Safety and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will team up to fight drunken and aggressive driving this July 4 holiday on the water, on the roadways and from the sky.
The enforcement partnerships with SCDNR will supplement a host of statewide Highway Patrol enforcement efforts tailored to specific problems that vary from area to area.
“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to proactive enforcement on holidays,” said Highway Patrol Col. Russell Roark. “We are looking at every area of the state and examining what the problem roadways and causations are and what is needed to prevent highway and lake deaths in that area.”
The July 4 travel period is typically a deadly one. The official “travel” period this year is 30 hours beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, and ending at midnight on Wednesday, July 4. For law enforcement, this means motorists and boaters will be on the waterways and roadways for an extended period. The Highway Patrol and DNR will place their increased enforcement focus over an extended time period: June 29-July 8.
During a similar 10-day period in 2006 (the Friday before July 4 to the Sunday after), there were 32 fatalities; 24 in 2005; and 23 in 2004. In recent years, the highest number of fatalities was in 2002 when there were 41 during that period. Last year, 17 people were killed over a 102-hour travel period when the holiday fell on a Tuesday; 13 people were killed in 2005 over a 78-hour period when it fell on a Monday.
“It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when the majority of people will be celebrating,” said Col. Alvin Taylor, deputy director of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement Division. “So, we’re putting forth a sustained effort that will cover the holiday weekend to weekend.”
In 2006, DNR had 130 recreational boating accidents for the year and 14 boating fatalities. Most of the accidents involved collisions with another vessel, which was the result of failure to keep proper lookout. Four of the accidents were alcohol related, which resulted in three injuries and one death.
The enforcement began today with the beginning of an aerial enforcement campaign and increased enforcement on the ground conducted jointly between DNR, Highway Patrol, State Transport Police (for commercial motor vehicles), and local law enforcement. This increased enforcement will focus on I-20 and U.S. 378 in Aiken, Lexington and Saluda counties.
The aerial enforcement will focus on the weekends before and after July 4. DNR’s airplane and pilot, along with a trooper in the plane, are used in the aerial enforcement working in conjunction with teams of troopers and other law enforcement on the highway below.
“Aerial enforcement gives a broader picture of the traffic situation, making it easier to observe traffic patterns over an extended stretch of roadway and spot vehicles engaging in reckless or aggressive driving behaviors,” Roark said.
In addition to the aerial campaign, the two agencies will team up at popular lake hotspots around the state to work enforcement zones surrounding the lakes and patrolling the lakes as well.
Special enforcement will include public safety checkpoints, LIDAR, speed trailers, saturation patrols, marked and unmarked vehicles and motorcycle units. Motorists need to be prepared with their driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance if they are stopped at a checkpoint. Saturation patrols and special DUI teams will be used especially on high-collision roadways. Troopers will be outside their vehicles on overpasses or roadways using LIDAR, which is a hand-held stationery radar device to monitor speed.
Violations contributing to holiday crashes include speeding, changing lanes unlawfully, following too closely, reckless driving, driving under the influence, and commercial motor vehicle violations.