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More state troopers will monitor Fourth of July traffic

When state trooper Brandon Harris is on the job, he said he is always alert.

“I’m always looking behind me, I’m always looking at the road that’s going the opposite direction,” he said. “I see people. They don’t think I’m looking, but I’m always looking.”

This holiday weekend, he will be keeping a closer eye on things as traffic increases on Missouri roadways, especially in Boone County.

He said there is usually an increase in speeding and drunken driving over a holiday weekend, as well as more distracted drivers with families in the car or who are texting.

Troopers will target these violations over the Fourth of July weekend as part of Operation C.A.R.E, or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, and 20-Mile Trooper.

In Operation C.A.R.E, state troopers will enforce traffic laws on highways and roadways as well as assist drivers who may need help.

Law enforcement participating in 20-Mile Trooper program on Thursday and Sunday will be stationed up and down highways in Missouri in order to stay visible to drivers and target those who are driving aggressively.

Highway Patrol said it hopes these efforts can prevent holiday weekend crashes.

According to the Highway Patrol, Missouri saw more than 1,200 accidents over Fourth of July weekend last year, where 525 people were injured and nine were killed.

Harris said he wants the efforts to encourage people to follow the rules of the road.

“It’s not really about stopping people and writing tickets so much as just being seen,” he said. “It’ll get people to slow down a little bit so that there aren’t as many crashes on the road.”

He said he hopes keeping frequent tabs on drivers this weekend could eliminate many preventable accidents.

“Somebody didn’t make it home to their family because you wanted to text and drive, or you wanted to talk on your phone or whatever the case is,” he said. “It upsets me a little bit when crashes can be avoided, especially when it’s so minor.”

Harris also said there is a zero tolerance for drunken driving, and anyone who is driving drunk behind the wheel will be arrested.

MODOT said there will be three major areas in mid-Missouri that will likely experience heavy traffic: The I-70 Highway 63 connector in Columbia, the Highway 54 Corridor in Jefferson City heading toward the Lake of the Ozarks and at Mile Marker 77 in Saline County. That area of I-70 is down to one lane both directions due to bridge work.

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