Troopers prepare for heavy travel as summer begins

Updated: May. 26, 2017 at 4:10 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Public Safety urges motorists to be aware of increased vehicle and motorcycle traffic this Memorial Day weekend, which signifies the start of summer travel.

AAA Carolinas is predicting that more motorists will be on the roads this weekend than in years past, Troopers say.

A total of eight motorists died on South Carolina highways last year during the long weekend, which begins at 6 p.m. tonight and runs through Monday at midnight. Statewide highway fatalities stand at 383 this year compared to 380 at this time last year.

SCDPS will be working alongside local officers over the 78-hour travel holiday to maximize their presence on the roads. Troopers and STP officers will focus on such violations as driving under the influence, distracted driving, speed and safety belts. Law enforcement encourages motorists and bikers to share the road as the coastal areas will see increased traffic due to Memorial Bikefest.

SCDPS kicked off its "Buckle Up, South Carolina. It's the law and it's enforced." campaign last week. Additionally, the agency re-introduced the vintage Highways or Dieways commercials on social media, reminding the public that the adage of "Highways or Dieways: The Choice is Yours." is still relevant.

"Many people remember how impactful the Highways or Dieways campaign was when it debuted some 30 years ago," said Director Leroy Smith. "We brought back those retro spots on social media, reminding motorists of the importance of making the right choices on the road, such as buckling up, obeying the speed limit and designating a sober driver."

SC Highway Patrol Col. Michael Oliver reminds motorists to watch out for vulnerable roadway users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, moped riders and motorcyclists.

"Our primary message this Memorial Day weekend is to avoid distractions, designate a sober driver and obey the speed limit," Oliver said. "With the increased law enforcement presence this weekend, we are also reminding motorists to yield to emergency vehicles and move over when they see first responders and law enforcement."

Oliver encourages motorists to call *HP to report aggressive or impaired driving behaviors, such as excessive speed, weaving in and out of lanes, driving well below the speed limit or ignoring traffic signals.

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