California Highway Patrol urges travelers to take caution this weekend

California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Josh Greengard greets Colton Harper, 3, and Amanda Harper during the 29th annual Chips for Kids toy drive in front of the Target in Valencia on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The toys will be donated to underprivileged kids and families. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

For this Memorial Day weekend, the California Highway Patrol plans to be a bit more strict on the roads.

Patrol officers are taking part in a “maximum enforcement period,” according to CHP PIO Josh Greengard, where there will be more officers patrolling the highways.

“There’s a threshold and priority for how many people we have working, and that priority is more than non-holiday weekends,” Greengard said. “There’s more officers working on non-holiday weekends because there’s more traffic. The biggest thing for us is we want to alleviate traffic on the roadways, so we want to make sure we can clear the lanes as far as possible.”

That means for the record 3.21 million Southern California residents traveling over the holiday weekend — numbers from the Auto Club of Southern California — they’ll have to be on their best behaviors if they don’t want to get tickets. Or worse, into accidents.

Greengard said the number one violation CHP officers charge travelers for during these holiday weekends is speeding. He encourages people to abide by the posted speed limits, take caution in construction zones, leave earlier if need be and designate sober drivers, as officers will also be issuing more DUIs.

All of this is in the interest of safety, he said, so travelers should make sure to keep their cell phones stored away to prevent distracted driving and be safe.

“Everyone travels those roadways, and everyone’s goal is to go home safely,” he said. “You don’t want to get in a crash, you definitely don’t want to get hurt, and you most certainly don’t want to die in a traffic collision.”

The maximum enforcement period will run from Friday, May 25, known as one of the heavier traffic times of the weekend, to Monday, May 28.

Approximately 70 percent of the vehicle occupants who died in CHP jurisdiction in the 2016 and 2017 Memorial Day maximum enforcement periods were not wearing seat belts, according to a CHP press release. A total of 45 people died statewide in Memorial Day maximum enforcement periods collisions in 2017.

During those same periods, there were 921 arrests in California for driving under the influence in 2017 and 1,065 in 2016.

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