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Law enforcement gearing up for holiday weekend

Those driving through Washington County during the Fourth of July holiday weekend will see twice the police force driving along with them.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office announced plans last week to double the number of officers that are normally out on the road to offer more significant traffic enforcement during the holiday.
“Our facility here is full of people who did not make good, responsible decisions,” said WCSO Maj. Gary Bradley during a press conference held at the Washington County Detention Center on June 24. “Our biggest thing this holiday will be to stress responsibility.”
While the primary focus will be on laws related to driving, Bradley said the enforcement of traffic rules often leads to other things such as drug seizures.
During the Fourth of July weekend, Bradley says the agency typically makes eight to 10 DUI arrests, issues 25 to 30 speeding citations and another 25-30 tickets for other violations.
While fatality rates and serious injury crashes appear to be down in the area, Bradley said the sheriff’s office is taking a proactive approach to keeping area motorists safe.
“It falls back to distracted driving. We still see a lot of people texting while driving and people not obeying the speed limits,” he said.
While officers will be out in force for the holiday because of an expected increase in traffic, Bradley said every day traffic has also been on the rise.
“Over the past five years there has been an increase in traffic not only on our main thoroughfares — Highway 11E, Highway 36, Bobby Hicks Highway — but also on our county roadways,” Bradley said. “Old State Route 34 and Highway 81 South toward Unicoi have had a lot of increase in traffic.”
According to Steve Dillard with the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, there were nine fatalities on roadways across the state last Fourth of July holiday. In 2009, 16 people were killed.
“We hope this will be a good holiday for everybody,” Dillard said. “It’d be great to have no fatalities. That’s what we hope.”