I-17 target of state Labor Day safety task force - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

I-17 target of state Labor Day safety task force

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A stretch of I-17 between Black Canyon City and Cordes Junction is one of the busiest stretches in Arizona over the Labor Day weekend. (Source: CBS 5 News) A stretch of I-17 between Black Canyon City and Cordes Junction is one of the busiest stretches in Arizona over the Labor Day weekend. (Source: CBS 5 News)

Several state agencies are teaming for a safe driving campaign north of the Valley along Interstate 17 over the Labor Day weekend.

"The key things are going to be speeding, drivers going way too fast," said Doug Nitzel a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation. "So we're always urging folks, don't be pushing that envelope. Be patient out on the highways."

ADOT, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety and the Arizona Department of Health Services have targeted that stretch of road because it's one of the busiest highways at the start and conclusion of the Labor Day weekend.

Six DPS officer, two commercial vehicle enforcement officers and several freeway service patrol members will work the I-17 corridor between Black Canyon City and the State Route 69 interchange at Cordes Junction as part of the state's Labor Day Traffic Safety Taskforce.

"Our ultimate goal at DPS is zero fatalities statewide," said DPS Director Robert Halliday. "With the help of our partners at the ADOT we will be focused on preventing crashes by enforcing speed limits, safety belt usage and driver attention."

Drivers can stop by the "Labor Day Safe Driving Fairs" at the Outlets at Anthem, I-17 and Anthem Way, as well as the Sunset Point Rest Area from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday. Personnel will hand out bottled water and are prepared to provide basic first aid for holiday weekend travelers.

According to ADOT statistics, Labor Day weekend was the deadliest holiday weekend in Arizona last year. Seventeen people were killed in 14 fatal crashes on highway and local roads across the state over the extended Labor Day weekend in 2012.

"Obviously it will be a much safer and enjoyable weekend if we can avoid serious incidents or traffic tie-ups along I-17," said ADOT Director John Halikowski. "State agencies are teaming up to promote public safety and to be ready to respond quickly if accidents or other incidents happen. Drivers can do their part by buckling up, avoiding distractions and not tailgating."

Impaired drivers will also be a focus of the task force, according to Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Alberto Gutier.

"Alcohol was involved in more than a third of the fatal crashes across the state over last year's Labor Day weekend," said Gutier. "This I-17 safety campaign is part of a statewide effort where officers will target impaired drivers who put innocent lives at risk. If you drive hammered, be prepared to get nailed."

Drivers also are urged to get a good night's rest before heading out on a holiday weekend trip and to check their vehicles, especially their tire pressure, oil and fluid levels and engine belts and hoses.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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