Kenai Peninsula residents traveling over the holidays will note an aggressive increase in the traffic enforcement efforts of local law agencies.
The Alaska State Troopers and other agencies statewide are conducting extra traffic enforcement efforts and targeting those driving under the influence through Nov. 27.
“Officers realize the holidays can be tough for a lot of folks, so there’s more DUI enforcement for public safety reasons,” Soldotna Police Department Sgt. Stace Escott said.
The ramped up enforcement by Troopers will be focused on DUI enforcement for both alcohol and drugs.
Kenai Police are concentrating on increased patrols on Friday for the “Christmas Comes to Kenai” events.
“We’ll have those activities to look after, so the department will have a substantial increase in enforcement that night,” Kenai Police Department Lt. David Ross said.
Traditionally, KPD has not seen an increase in drunken driving over the holidays, Ross said.
Not getting behind the wheel of a vehicle is the best option, he said.
People celebrating with alcohol are encouraged to plan ahead. Catching a ride with a friend or relative and other alternative means of getting home are encouraged.
Taxi companies, such as Alaska Cab Inc. and Twin Cities Cab, are increasing their drivers over the Thanksgiving weekend.
SPD hasn’t had a DUI-related arrest over Thanksgiving weekend for the past three years, according to the department.
Escott contends the absence of DUI offenses in Soldotna is due to the advertisement of increased enforcement, the use of taxis and the nature of the community.
“I think it’s all those things combined that have helped keep the stats low,” he said. “Both at Christmas and Thanksgiving.”
Extending the timeframe of extra enforcement by Troopers over two weeks was the decision of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the federal agency providing part of the funding.
Additional funding was provided by grant sources distributed through the Alaska Highway Safety Office.
Holiday celebrations around Thanksgiving and Christmas usually extend beyond the days immediately surrounding the holidays, a Trooper spokesperson said.
AAA forecasts a total of 42.5 million people across the nation, up 4 percent from last year, traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Travel by car remains the dominant mode of transportation with 38.2 million people driving, according to AAA.
Troopers encourage residents to report every dangerous driver immediately by calling 911.
Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.