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Area police plan aggressive traffic campaign for Memorial Day weekend
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (May 28, 2010) — Several local law enforcement agencies in Pulaski County are conducting a stepped-up program of traffic enforcement during the Memorial Day weekend, in conjunction with state efforts through the Missouri Department of Public Safety and traffic enforcement grants.

State troopers plan to use their “ten-mile trooper project” again this year, assigning a trooper every 10 miles along Interstate 44 during the peak travel days of Memorial Day weekend.

The program is intended to reduce traffic crashes through vigorous enforcement and high visibility, as well as placing troopers in position to respond quickly to motorists who may need assistance. That can be a problem in rural parts of Missouri; when a semi truck ran off Interstate 44 down a 65-foot embankment into the Big Piney River valley early Friday morning, state patrol dispatchers had to call out an off-duty state trooper to respond. At other times, troopers may have to race from one end of Pulaski County to the other if they’re in the wrong part of the county when a crash happens.

“For many the Memorial Day weekend will be the first opportunity to enjoy the many pleasurable activities of summer,” said Capt. Lee Ann Kenley, commanding officer of the Rolla-based Troop I which runs along Interstate 44 from Laclede County east to the edge of the St. Louis suburbs.

“However, the excitement of that first summer outing can be tragically spoiled by a traffic crash,” Kenley said. “By strictly following Missouri’s traffic laws, which includes making sure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up, you can help make this holiday weekend both enjoyable and safe.”

Last year, Troop I had no fatal crashes. That’s unusual, but state patrol officials say they hope it happens again this year along the central part of the Interstate 44 corridor.

In St. Robert, the department’s officers have been conducting a “click it or ticket” mobilization since Monday and will continue that work until June 6, according to Police Chief Curtis Curenton.

According to state statistics cited by Curenton, nearly 25 percent of Missourians still fail to regularly wear their seat belts, which is a compliance rate significantly below the national average. About 70 percent of those who die in a traffic crash in Missouri aren’t wearing their seat belt.

“Every day someone dies in a crash in Missouri because they weren’t buckled up,” said Curenton in a prepared statement. “We’ll be out there to remind you seat belts can – and do – save lives.”

Both St. Robert and Waynesville officers are also conducting their own local speeding enforcement campaigns. St. Robert police have begun a no-tolerance policy for writing tickets rather than merely warnings for speeders in residential areas, and Waynesville police are strictly enforcing speed limits in certain residential areas and the downtown area of Historic Route 66 where the speed drops from 40 mph or 35 mph to 25 mph.

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