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Authorities plan to step up patrols for holidays

Police will be stepping up patrols to ensure roads are safe for holiday travelers.

State Police Sgt. M.L. Simpson said troopers in Kanawha County would spend more time on the road making their presence known. He said troopers would run extra patrols until after New Year's.

"We'd like the motoring public to give more time and be cautious when they drive at night and in the daytime," Simpson said.

The sergeant said more motorists would be on the roads during the holiday season, traveling to be with family and friends. Because of the increased traffic, drivers should take their time and pay attention while behind the wheel.

Simpson pointed out that texting can earn drivers tickets if they're caught. Drivers also should use hands-free devices if they use their cellphones while behind the wheel.

A law making texting while driving a primary offense went into effect for West Virginia on July 1, the same day a law making driving while using a handheld cellphone a secondary offense went into effect.

Motorists should be on the lookout for impaired drivers. More holiday parties usually means more impaired drivers.

"This season we're going to have enhanced patrols out looking for DUI drivers, trying to get them off the roadways to make the roads safer," Simpson said.

He encouraged those who planned to drink to think ahead and have a designated driver or call a cab.

"In the holiday season the difference is that there are more people at home, more people traveling, which makes the roadways busier for us and if you add in an intoxicated driver - in times past we've had tragic results," Simpson said. "We want to try to prevent as many tragedies as we can."

Charleston Lt. Shawn Williams said more city officers would be on patrol as well.  He said officers would be visible on city streets and interstates to make sure motorists know to take care in the area.

"We don't want to be grinches and write a bunch of tickets or anything," Williams said. "But we do want everyone to be able to enjoy the holidays safely."

Williams said the biggest problem city officers see around the holidays are speeders barreling along the interstates where they converge on Charleston.

Officers also will be running DUI patrols in the city.  

In South Charleston, officers are manning the posts they've held for more than seven years, directing the heavy flow of traffic in and out of the Shops at Trace Fork.

Bob Houck, South Charleston assistant police chief, said officers already have been directing traffic on weekends at the shopping plaza just off Corridor G but soon would be taking on the duty every evening as last-minute shoppers try to squeeze in one more trip.

In addition to keeping traffic moving at the shopping plaza, officers also have been running DUI patrols every weekend. He said officers would be patrolling the city streets more often over the holidays.

"It just kind of depends on what's going on where," Houck said.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.


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