Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, and that means picnics, barbecues and graduations.
It also means extra California Highway Patrol officers out on the roads, and the CHP is reminding people to buckle up, designate a driver and eliminate distractions.
In Santa Cruz County last weekend, CHP officers arrested 20 suspected drunk drivers, which is more than normal but an indiciation summer is coming, according to CHP officer Sarah Jackson.
Memorial Day weekend is a Maximum Enforcement Period for the CHP. Officers will be out on the road looking for motorists who are a danger to themselves and others beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. It runs through 11:59 p.m. Monday.
“If you are celebrating the Memorial Day holiday, we want you to have fun and be safe,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a prepared statement. “If you get behind the wheel, make sure you buckle up and ensure your passengers do the same. Wearing your seat belt can save your life and the lives of those you love.
Memorial Day weekend in 2011 saw a significant increase in the number of people killed in collisions. According to CHP statistics, there were 24 deaths statewide, a 41 percent increase from the previous year, and 60 percent of those killed were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. There were 1,367 arrests for driving under the influence statewide in CHP jurisdiction during the holiday weekend.
Also, the CHP’s holiday enforcement effort coincides with the 2012 “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign, which continues nationwide through June 3.
The will have extra staff on duty this weekend, and they warn of increased traffic on Ocean St. from the river to Hwy. 17 and around the city's beaches.
The department encourages anyone witnessing illegal activity to report it immediately to help prevent escalation and to allow everyone to have a safe and happy holiday.