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Health, Science, Environment

Holiday traffic and Labor Day fun create deadly trend in Missouri, Illinois

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People who report drunk drivers in Illinois this New Year's weekend could get $100 dollars through the Drunkbusters program.

Law enforcement agencies on both sides of the Mississippi River are out in force this weekend to try and keep a deadly trend in check. Historically Labor Day weekend is one of the deadliest holidays to travel in both Missouri and Illinois.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, 16 people were killed in car crashes in Illinois last year during Labor Day weekend. Missouri state records show that eight people died in traffic accidents in during Labor Day 2013. The only holiday in 2013 to have more fatal crashes in either state was the 4th of July.

Transportation and highway patrol officials for both states say extra officers will be on the roads through midnight on Labor Day watching out for unsafe driving and conducting sobriety checks.

“The goal here is to get drunk and drugged drivers off the roads. Also to look out for folks who don’t have their seatbelts on. When it comes to holidays a lot of people are on the roads,” said Brian Williamsen with the Illinois Department of Transportation.

While Illinois has higher overall fatality numbers for the holiday, an increase in overall fatalities in Missouri this year has state troopers worried.

“Our fatalities are down in past years but they’re up from last year. So we don’t like the trend we’re seeing,” said Sergeant Al Nothum of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “We’re up about 9 to 11 percent from where we were last year at this time.”

Nothum said a lot of people say the rise in fatalities is because cheaper gas has put more drivers on the road, but he disagrees.

“If a loved one of yours was killed in a car crash tomorrow and you asked me as a trooper why this happened  and I said well it’s because gas prices are down that’s not going to ring true to anybody.”

The trooper says the reason Missouri has fatal car crashes is because people drive too fast, drink and drive and don’t wear their seatbelts.

“It would be a perfect holiday weekend if we didn’t write one ticket and arrest one (person),” said Nothum. “You would not hear one complete from the highway patrol.”

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.

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