Troopers prepare for heavy traffic as summer season of travel begins

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- A dozen people died on South Carolina's roadways during last year's Memorial Weekend, but Highway Patrol officials are hoping to make it through the long weekend with no highway fatalities this year.

"The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has been called the 100 Deadly Days of Summer because fatalities typically rise as people are off from work and out of school, heading to vacation spots," said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. "I'm encouraging our troopers, officers and motorists to be part of the Target Zero Team and help change summer's reputation to the 100 Safe Days of Summer."

Troopers will increase their presence on the state's roads to prevent highway deaths, focusing on speeders and seat belt violations. Law enforcement will hold public safety checkpoints, use radar to detect speed violations and use every available resource to remove drunk drivers from the roadways, officials said.

This is also the second biker week in Myrtle Beach. Last week, officials said there were no fatalities during Harley Bike Week.

SCHP Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver said that troopers will also be keeping a close eye on protecting vulnerable roadway users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, moped riders and motorcyclists.

"Motorists will see more blue lights as troopers focus on deterring aggressive and deadly driving behaviors," Oliver said. "People often get complacent or let their excitement about their vacation distract them from the road on holiday weekends. Stay focused, plan rest breaks and watch your speed."

Oliver encouraged motorists to call *HP to report aggressive or impaired driving behaviors such as excessive speed, weaving in and out of lanes, driving drastically below the speed limit and ignoring traffic signals.

According to the state's Department of Public Safety, statewide highway fatalities stand at 269 this year compared to 270 at this time last year.