With the holiday season officially underway, Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety, announces that there will be increased State Police patrols starting today (Wednesday, November 22) to provide increased enforcement of all traffic violations – especially those involving drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding and violations of the state’s seatbelt laws.

Thanksgiving is traditionally the deadliest of holidays, with more traffic fatalities occurring on that day than any other day of the year, according to federal highway statistics. On average, about 400 people across the country die each year over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Many of these deaths are directly attributed to drunk driving, as well as drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts. Distracted driving also has contributed to the increase in fatalities so far this year, with 76 people killed and 289 seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes.

That is why the Rhode Island State Police, along with other law enforcement agencies across the state and throughout the region, are participating in several traffic efforts to help keep roadways safe. These include a statewide DUI campaign starting tonight, in which state and local police will have additional troopers and police officers specifically assigned to identify and arrest motorists operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Rhode Island State Police will continue to provide additional DUI patrols each night throughout the holiday season as part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.

In addition, Rhode Island State Police are joining other State Police and local police throughout the region for Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a multi-state program of patrol and enforcement efforts designed to help prevent crashes through strict enforcement of traffic laws throughout this holiday weekend.

As part of that effort, Rhode Island State Police will be participating in the Click-It-or-Ticket campaign this Friday to enforce state laws requiring that all occupants be properly secured in motor vehicles.

The Rhode Island State Police and the state Department of Transportation’s Office on Highway Safety also have joined forces to support the new Buckle Up Faithfully initiative launched earlier this week by local religious leaders, who are asking their congregations to help share the message to buckle up for safety.

Colonel Assumpico reminds motorists that one of the single most important steps they can take to protect themselves, their family members and friends is to ensure that everyone buckles up while driving. Make sure all occupants are properly restrained wearing seatbelts or child safety seats – every trip, every time.

In addition, Colonel Assumpico said the Rhode Island State Police need everyone’s help when it comes to keeping roadways safe. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t let family members and friends drive drunk. Also, if motorists see others operating motor vehicles in a dangerous or unsafe manner, call 911 immediately.

“Even with increased patrols during the holidays, our troopers can’t be everywhere, all the time,” Colonel Assumpico said. “But with your help, we will aggressively pursue any motorist whose actions threaten the lives of others on the roads – not only during the holidays, but throughout the year. Let’s all do our part to keep our roadways safe and make sure everyone has a happy holiday season.