PHOENIX – Interstate 17 north of the Phoenix area, one of the busiest highways at the start and end of the Labor Day weekend, will be the focus of a safe-driving campaign starting Friday (Aug. 30), as part of a taskforce lead by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Arizona Department of Health Services.
DPS will assign six highway patrol officers, two commercial vehicle enforcement officers and several freeway service patrol members to work along I-17 between Black Canyon City and the State Route 69 interchange at Cordes Junction on Friday and Monday (Sept. 2) as part of the state’s Labor Day Traffic Safety Taskforce.
ADOT will use its overhead message boards in the area to display the words “Safety Corridor – Stay Alert, Stay Alive,” heading into and during the holiday weekend. In addition, portable message boards also will display safety messages such as “Buckle up” and be available to advise drivers of incidents ahead.
“The Arizona Department of Public Safety is dedicated to eliminating crashes on Interstate 17 this weekend,” said DPS Director Robert Halliday. “Our ultimate goal at DPS is zero fatalities statewide. 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.”
DPS, ADOT, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and Arizona Department of Health Services also have teamed up with the Daisy Mountain Fire Department, John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Medical Center and the Yavapai County Citizens Corps’ Community Emergency Response Team to provide traffic safety information to drivers at two locations on Friday and Monday.
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, if necessary, be 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.”
ADOT will have equipment ready, including a front loader, dump truck and roadway sweeper, to allow crews to respond to help DPS officers along I-17.
Law enforcement officers around the state will be working to take impaired drivers off the road, 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.