More than 375,000 Oklahomans are expected to take to the road over the Labor Day holiday, a five percent increase from last year according to AAA Oklahoma.

With the increase in traffic, Oklahoma law enforcement agencies say they’ll be watching extra close for illegal activity.

And they’ll have extra manpower.

“If traffic’s bad at 5 p.m. on a regular weekday imagine what it’s like at 5 p.m. on a holiday,” McAlester Police Chief Jim Lyles said. “We’ll have a whole two shifts out. We work traffic a little bit harder on any holiday, particularly around the Highway 69 bypass.”

Lyles said the McAlester Police Department will also be cracking down on drunk driving. He said the holiday is no excuse to have a few drinks and get behind the wheel.

“Sometimes we do see an increase in drunk driving over a holiday weekend; hopefully we won’t this time,” Lyles said. “But we will be watching for those folks.”

The McAlester Police Department are not the only ones out to get drunk drivers over the weekend.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is also participating in the National Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest campaign. The campaign began Aug. 18 and ends Labor Day. It’s designed to emphasize the importance of getting intoxicated drivers off the road.

“Our goal is to have no fatalities at all for this Labor Day weekend,” Trooper Kera Philippi said.

Troopers will also participate in Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort, an organized effort to increase seatbelt safety awareness.

Operation CARE takes place every Labor Day weekend. Officials say nine fatalities were reported over the 2005 holiday, the same number reported in 2004.

“Each of the nine victims in 2005 were not wearing their safety belts,” Philippi said, “We always stress the importance of seatbelts but people still fail to listen. When seatbelts are not in use, people lose their lives.”

The Lake Patrol will also be out in full force over the weekend. Capt. George Green said everyone will be on duty. No days off or taking leave over the Labor Day holiday, he said. He wouldn’t divulge actual numbers, but said everyone available will be working.

Green said Lake Patrol focuses mainly on moving violations, safety hazards and equipment violations.

“People sometimes get tunnel vision and don’t realize how close they’re getting to other boats,” Green said. “That’s probably the biggest problem we have. We also want to remind people how important life jackets are, especially for younger boaters.”

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