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Troopers Increasing Presence

Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers are increasing their presence over the Thanksgiving, stationing themselves every 20 miles on interstates. Columbia police and Boone County deputies are also stepping up enforcement and cracking down on speeders.Officers say they hope the extra holiday enforcement helps to cut down on the number of deaths on roadways over the next few days.Sgt. Paul Reinsch of the Highway Patrol says fatalities on the state’s roads are up about five percent this year. So far, there have been 725 fatalities on Missouri roads and 56 of those have been in Mid-Missouri. With about six weeks left this year and lots of holiday traveling, the goal is to increase police presence on roads and decrease crash numbers.Sgt. Reinsch believes nearly a third of deaths are preventable with seat belts.”About 64 percent of our fatalities this year are not wearing seat belts,” said Reinsch. “So that’s way too high. We need to get the individuals wearing seat belts and that’s going to keep them safe.”Highway Patrol says more accidents could be avoided if drivers eliminated distractions.”Inattention is the leading cause of traffic crashes and texting and driving is part of that,” said Reinsch. “As long as someone sees a law enforcement officer, they’re going to pay a little bit more attention to what they’re doing behind the wheel.”To drive that idea home, Columbia police and Sheriff’s deputies have joined troopers in increasing their presence on highways. That increased presence is also being used to decrease the number of speeders.”Speed is the leading contributor to fatality crashes in our state,” said Reinsch. “We put as many officers as we can on those roads. It also promotes safety just from the troopers being out there.”ABC 17’s Janai Norman rode along with Boone County Sheriff’s deputies as they cracked down on speeds Wednesday afternoon. In just four hours, deputies made more than 70 traffic stops along I-70.In fact, deputies say most drivers slow down at the sight of a law enforcement vehicle. However, officers are still pulling over drivers caught speeding in the county and either handing out tickets or issuing warnings.Deputies say the point of the increased patrols is not to cash in with added tickets, but rather to get drivers to slow down and drive more carefully.Drivers can expect extra officers out on the roadways throughout the holiday weekend, especially on Sunday, which will be another heavy travel day.

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