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State Patrol to be out in force over Labor Day

"The State Patrol is warning people to buckle up or pay up this Labor Day weekend. And of course, don’t drink up before driving.To make sure that people are following the rules of the road, and hopefully save a few lives in the process, there will be extra State Patrol troopers on Highway 20 from Sept. 1 to Sept. 4. That is bound to mean more traffic stops and traffic tickets.State Patrol Public Information Officer Lt. Walt Fisch said there will be six or seven patrols on Whidbey Island next weekend, which is twice as many as normal.In fact, there will be more cops on the roads nationwide under the federal government’s ancient Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort — CARE — program. The money is funneled through the state Traffic Safety Commission to pay for the extra patrols on Whidbey.This year’s emphasis, Fisch said, is on seat belt and child restraint usage, as well as an ongoing effort to get drunk drivers off the road. While it is not a “primary violation” for an adult not to wear a seat belt, which means an officer cannot pull over a person for being without a belt, a driver or passenger can get a hefty ticket if pulled over for something else, like speeding or reckless driving.But it is a primary violation for a child to be unrestrained in a car, Fisch warned.According to State Patrol statistics, the summer months are the worst time of the year for traffic fatalities, and the largest number of fatalities occur on rural two-lane roads like Highway 20. The good news is that the number of fatal accidents is on a decline. So far this year, Fisch said 361 people in the state have been killed in fatal accidents. That’s down about 7 percent over the same period last year, when 391 people died in cars. "

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