Holiday, start of football season creating busy time for Highway Patrol

COLUMBIA, SC (SCHP) - The South Carolina Highway Patrol is preparing for Labor Day weekend, closing out the 100 Deadly Days of Summer with a record-low number of fatalities and collisions.

As of midnight Aug. 30, there have been 177 fatalities in the first 92 days of the 100 Deadly Days of Summer.  That compares to 255 fatalities in the same number of days in 2009.  That reduction equates to a 31 percent decrease in highway fatalities.

As of Sept. 1, 506 people have died on South Carolina highways compared to 605 deaths last year.

Labor Day is a 78-hour holiday weekend beginning Friday evening at 6 p.m. and ending Monday at midnight. It is also one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

Last year, nine people died during the long travel weekend. In addition to the enforcement, the public is asked to continue working in partnership with law enforcement by calling *HP if they suspect an impaired driver.

The Highway Patrol is continuing its participation with local law enforcement in the Sober or Slammer! Labor Day enforcement blitz that concludes Sept. 6. Highway Patrol special enforcement initiatives will continue through the weekend, especially those on I-26 from Columbia to Charleston.

This also will be the final weekend of the successful summer partnership with SCDNR, "On the Water and On the Road…" The State Transport Police will join with the Highway Patrol to monitor commercial motor vehicle traffic, and the SC Department of Transportation will be using variable message boards on highways around the state to display a DUI enforcement message.

Highway Patrol Col. Kenny Lancaster, Jr. stressed several reasons people are more likely to get caught if they risk driving impaired: a 30-member DUI team focused solely on impaired driving; frequent special enforcement initiatives with the SCLEN and other local agencies; and the public being involved in looking out for impaired driving behaviors through *HP campaign.

Friday is traditionally the heaviest travel day of the Labor Day period. The University of South Carolina will host its first home game Thursday tonight, and Clemson will play at home on Saturday adding to the traffic congestion.

Motorists are asked to be aware of congestion in those areas as well as additional law enforcement presence on arteries around the stadiums.