Crime & Courts

Low gas prices equals holiday traffic, increased enforcement

Highway patrol troopers will be on the lookout for speedsters, drunken drivers and aggressive drivers this weekend, in expectation of heavier than usual traffic because of the dramatic drop-off in fuel prices.

"People are overdue on making those long trips," Department of Public Safety Director Mark Keel said. The department said 13 percent of the American population will be traveling this holiday period, from Wednesday evening to midnight Sunday. Most of them will be in cars.

Expect delays and congestion as a result, the department said.

Eleven people died in fatal crashes over Thanksgiving weekend in South Carolina last year, the department said.

More than eight people a week, on average, are killed in alcohol-related wrecks in South Carolina.

The long weekend's enforcement activities include public safety checkpoints for license, registration and insurance, radar speed enforcement on major travel routes and interstates, and close attention to child safety restraint use, the department said.

Lack of seat belt use presents a major safety risk to vehicle passengers: More than 67 percent of vehicle occupants killed in a traffic crash last year were not properly restrained. About one in five vehicle passengers in South Carolina do not buckle up.

Distracted driving is also a concern.

“We urge drivers to have plans to keep the children occupied and reduce distraction in the vehicles,” Lt. Col. Melvin Howard of the Highway Patrol said.

Commercial truckers also will be subject to enforcement checkpoints for loads, driver logs and vehicle safety.

From staff reports