Holiday road watch begins

Drivers should expect an increased presence of law enforcement over Labor Day weekend.

The Iowa State Patrol is participating in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.

“It’s hand in hand with extra enforcement over the five major holidays,” said ISP Lt. Kelly Hindman, District 7 commander. “Labor Day is always one of the big ones.”

More than 750 people have been killed in the U.S. by drunk drivers during Labor Day weekend in the last five years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“There’s an awareness of drinking and driving over Labor Day weekend,” Webster County Sheriff Jim Stubbs said. “We want everyone to be responsible.”

The Webster County Sheriff’s Department is not actively participating in the campaign, but it is increasing its presence over the weekend.

“We want the county roads to be safe,” Stubbs said.

Hindman said there is always increased traffic over this weekend, especially this year with home football games at both Iowa State University in Ames and the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Saturday.

“It’s the last big travel weekend of the summer,” Hindman said. “There’s just a lot of things going on around this part of the state that puts a lot of people on the highways.”

Though the campaign calls attention to drunk driving, Hindman said law enforcement will also be looking for other things, including seatbelt violations.

Hindman said that half of the people killed in accidents in Iowa were not wearing a seatbelt.

“Seatbelts truly save many lives,” Hindman said.

ISP saved its overtime hours so it could increase its presence on the highways on Labor Day weekend, he said.

The Fort Dodge Police Department will also increase the number of officers on the road this weekend.

“Our officers have been encouraged to be more diligent in their observations of driving habits,” Acting Police Chief Kevin Doty said.

There will be extra officers working tonight and Saturday night.

“If you’re going out, have a plan,” Doty said.

People who decide to drink should know how they are getting home – without driving, he said.

“Don’t take that chance of getting behind the wheel,” Doty said. “Though you think you can (drive safely), that’s probably not the case.”