Tribune-Courier News Editor
Law enforcement will be on high alert starting next weekend for the Memorial Day holiday for speeders, drunk drivers and seat belt violators.
Memorial Day marks the one-year anniversary of a wreck that ultimately claimed the life of Landon Lovett.
“The big four we’re looking to curtail is speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving and seat belts,” said Jay Thomas, public information officer of the Kentucky State Police at Post 1.
One new technique of enforcement will be using unmarked vehicles to seek out drivers illegally texting while on the road. Thomas said KSP troopers will begin using elevated vehicles like semis and dump trucks. From a higher vantage point, uniformed troopers will look for drivers sending or receiving texts. These troopers will radio troopers in marked patrol cars to issue citations. Drivers need not be actively sending a text to receive a citation. It is an offense to pull out a mobile device to read a text.
“Our ‘Click it or Ticket’ campaign begins on May 20, and we will be paying troopers overtime to provide extra enforcement,” Thomas said. “Motorists will definitely see more troopers in a two-week blitz of patrols.”
Thomas said the KSP will be conducting traffic safety checkpoints in high-collision areas seeking drivers under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription drugs. Drivers will also be asked to produce proof of insurance.
“In summer months we increase patrols because there are more motorists on the road,” Thomas said. “We’re also looking at each car because drugs are always a factor.”
Sheriff Kevin Byars said his deputies will also go on high alert starting yesterday for seat belts, drunk drivers, speeders and texters with the Click it or Ticket campaign. In addition, deputies will be patrolling Kentucky Lake in the department’s boat.
“We’ll have a presence on the water to deal with any boaters in distress,” Byars said. “We’ve had a rash of thefts at marinas and private docks, and our patrol is a deterrent to this activity.”
Byars said the maritime patrol would also seek impaired boaters. Like drivers, boaters can be arrested and cited for boating while intoxicated. He added an impaired boater will be cited to court and could spend a night in jail.
“We want to make sure every boater has a life jacket for everyone on board,” Byars said. “In addition, we are enforcing the law that every passenger under age 12 is wearing a life jacket. The message is stay safe, but have a good time.”
Byars said deputies on the road would be conducting random roadblocks to ensure drivers were not under the influence through labor day.
“Deputies will be alert for texting because that’s becoming a huge issue,” Byars said. “We may seek search warrants in accidents to look at phone records. Some drivers are honest and admit to texting, and some are not.”
Thomas advised motorists to study maps for construction, and noted work zones on Interstate 24 in McCracken, Lyon, Calloway and Christian counties.
“Plan for delays. Wear seat belts, obey the speed limit and don’t get too close to other cars,” Thomas said. “Avoid distractions, and do not use your phone illegally. If you partake in alcohol, do not drive when impaired or under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs.”
Byars added motorists should be mindful of motorcycles. Their size and acceleration can give drivers a false sense of security in their presence.
“Be cautious,” Byars said. “Watch out for all other drivers. You might be the safest driver on the road, but others are not.”