With Labor Day activities filling up the weekend and many traveling to spend time with family and friends, local law enforcement wants to remind people of safety practices during the holiday.
Last year in Wisconsin, 10 people died in traffic crashes during the holiday weekend and in Michigan, eight people died. To prevent traffic deaths and injuries this year, Wisconsin, Michigan and other states are participating in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
In Michigan last year, officers made 350 drunk driving arrests and issued 4,500 seat belt citations.
“It’s all about using common sense,” Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk said. “Don’t drink and drive and always wear a seat belt. Don’t risk your life or the lives of others around you. Just be safe.”
Furyk also asks motorists to be aware of others on the road, including motorcycles.
“There is going to be a lot of people traveling, so just pay attention to your surrounding area,” Furyk said.
The Michigan State Police is participating in Operation CARE, or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, to remind motorists to make safety a priority.
The program was created in 1977 to deter three causes of highway fatalities: aggressive driving, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints.
“As part of Operation CARE, and the statewide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over drunk driving enforcement campaign, troopers will take a zero-tolerance approach to drivers who are operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs,” Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP said. “In addition to looking for impaired drivers, troopers will also pay special attention to safety belt and child restraint violations and to those who are driving in a reckless and unsafe manner.”
Motorists can also prepare for road construction projects in advance by visiting the department of transportation’s websites for Michigan and Wisconsin.
In addition to driving precautions, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources issued press releases on boating and fire safety.
A big boat safety tip is wearing a life jacket. According to a press release from MDNR, more than 80 percent of drowning accident in the U.S. are due to people not wearing life jackets.
According to Lt. Andrew Turner, a boating law administrator for the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division, just having a life jacket on board isn’t enough.
“In most of the drowning accidents in the U.S ., people have life jackets on board their boats, but they just aren’t wearing them,” Turner said. “Life jackets must be Coast Guard-approved, must be in good and serviceable condition and properly fitted to the person wearing it.”
In Michigan, anyone under the age of 6 must wear a life jacket when on the open deck of any vessel, but wearing a personal flotation device is recommended for all ages.
“Every study shoes that using life jackets saves lives,” Turner said. “Life jackets have been redesigned in recent years so they come in styles that are comfortable and easy to wear. Having a life jacket on prevents the search for one during a boating emergency.”
Other tips include making sure the boat is properly equipped, filing a float plan so friends and family on shore know the details of the trip, stay alert for other boats, swimmers, skiers and objects in the water, carry a marine radio or cell phone and if pulling someone on water skis, tubes or rafts, have someone be a spotter to keep an eye out for hazards and other water crafts.
As with driving, the MDNR asks that people avoid drinking alcohol when on boats. According to the release, nearly half of all boating accidents involve alcohol and studies show that passengers are 10 times more likely to fall overboard when they have consumed alcohol. Boating under the influence is against the law.
Some residents may celebrate the holiday with a bonfire, and the MDNR also released precautions when dealing with fire.
Tips include clearing away all flammables before lighting a fire, never leaving a fire unattended, keeping campfires and debris fires small, having water on hand in case of flare ups and to put the fire out and always make sure fires are completely out.
For more information on road construction in Wisconsin, visit 511wi.gov/Web/ and for Michigan, visit michigan.gov/mdot.