Thursday, May 25, 2000

Troopers turn to public for help on holiday weekend

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Ohio State Highway Patrol wants to borrow your eyes and ears this summer to catch inebriated and reckless drivers.

        The patrol began its search for volunteers this week — area residents, students, business or civic groups to join Partners For Safety — a 3-year-old program that is expanding this year, said Lt. Michael Black, commander of the patrol's Hamilton Post.

        “We want you out there helping us watch for dangerous drivers and drunken drivers. We are looking for 10,000 Ohioans statewide to join us in this effort. The patrol is launching this summer-long program just before the Memorial Day weekend when, last year, at least 13 people were killed on Ohio roads,” Lt. Black said.

        State police in Kentucky and Indiana will be vigilant, too.

  Hamilton Post: For residents in Hamilton and Butler counties: (513) 863-4606.
  Batavia: For residents of Clermont County: (513) 732-1510.
  Georgetown: For residents of Brown and Adams counties: (937) 378-6191.
  Lebanon: For residents of Warren County: (513) 932-4444.
  Wilmington: For residents of Clinton County: (937) 382-2551.
        Trooper Chip Ayers, commander of the Indiana State Police post at Versailles, said Project CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) has been initiated in Southeastern Indiana.

        “We'll be out in force targeting speeding, aggressive driving and drunken driving. We'll have 15 extra units on duty (24 hours), increasing the normal patrol manpower of eight to 10 to 23 to 30,” Trooper Ayres said.

        The added vigilance will include interstate and major highway monitoring by helicopter and aircraft.

        Kentucky State Police also are planning a concerted traffic enforcement program for the holiday weekend, but details were not final Wednesday, said Capt. John Thorpe of the post at LaGrange.

        Increased police presence on Tristate highways is in answer to projections that Memorial Day travel will increase for the 10th consecutive year. The weekend launches the summer travel season.

        “Despite higher gas prices, 34.4 million Americans are expected to travel 100 miles or more from home — up 3 percent from last Memorial Day and 31 percent from the 1991 holiday,” said Jennifer Ledonne, spokeswoman for Cincinnati AAA.

        “AAA's preholiday fuel gauge report shows self-service regular gasoline averaging $1.465 per gallon nationwide — 30.8 percent higher than last Memorial Day.”

  • In Columbus, there is construction on interstates in the downtown area, on Interstate 270 and Ohio 315, and on Interstate 71 north of Columbus.
  • In Indianapolis, there is construction on the southeast side of the bypass, Interstate 74 and Interstate 465.
  • There are several construction areas from Erlanger south to Lexington on Interstate 71/75.
  • There is construction from the I-71/75 split in Kentucky and continuing about halfway to Louisville.
  • Construction continues on I-71 in northern Hamilton and Warren counties.
  Source: Cincinnati AAA
        An AAA survey projects 28.4 million people will travel the nation's highways, 3 percent more than 1999, with 5.7 million of those travelers in the Midwest, Ms. Ledonne said.

        An AAA travel destination survey indicates 27 percent of holiday travelers will head to rural areas, 22 percent to cities, 16 percent to ocean beaches, 13 percent to lakes, 9 percent to mountains, 6 percent to state and national parks and 3 percent to amusement parks. Four percent remain undecided, Ms. Ledonne said.

        Locally, Ms. Ledonne said Cin cinnati AAA members are, in general, choosing travel destinations closer to home. Among the most popular: Gatlinburg, Tenn., Washington D.C., northeast Ohio and state parks in general.

        Travelers not heading to the Indianapolis 500 should avoid the southwest side of Indianapolis through the weekend, she said.

        People can volunteer for the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Partners For Safety by calling their local patrol post. Volunteers will be asked to come to the post to meet troopers and be given a tip sheet and a list of equipment they need to keep in their vehicles.

        Post commanders also announced other recommendations and advice:

        • Motorists are urged to make use of the state's road construction and weather condition hot line — (888) 2-OH-ROAD — this summer to make themselves aware of traffic delays or inclement weather.

        • Operation ABC Mobilization — America Buckling Up Children — will coincide with Memorial Day weekend. Ohio troopers, county sheriff's deputies and police departments will strictly enforce laws involving seat-belt and child safety-seat use.

        • The Hamilton County Sheriff's office announced participation in National Buckle Up America campaign, targeting seat-belt use. “We will be using a zero-tolerance policy Friday through June 3 on violators of speed, safety restraint and impaired driving laws,” spokesman Steve Barnett said.


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