HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi Highway Patrol is urging the public to pay attention behind the wheel during one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year.
AAA estimates over this Memorial Day holiday weekend will be the busiest since 2015, with over 34.6 million Americans expected to drive. For MHP, this means more traffic and patrols needed along the state's highways.
Mississippi Highway Patrol is enforcing a "Drive to Survive" safety initiative. Master Sergeant Brent Barfield is urging drivers to take greater responsibility to combat distracted driving habits.
"Our ultimate goal is to have a fatality-free weekend. The amount of vehicles, we are going to have accidents and we know that," said Barfield. "I can't stress enough, you have to pay attention to what's going on around you when you travel. Especially in traffic as heavy as we are expecting."
Barfield says there will be an increased MHP presence with troopers and checkpoints all weekend long. He's asking drivers to obey speed limits, pay attention to drivers around you and put the cell phone down while behind the wheel.
Safety checkpoints will be used to stop impaired drivers and check on seatbelts.
"We're going to be out there, issuing safety citations, but more importantly, do it for yourself and your passengers," said Barfield. "Play close attention, abide by the speed limit. We want you to get there, get there safe and enjoy your weekend."
Troop J has worked 17 fatalities so far this year, a number Barfield hopes to keep at zero this holiday weekend.
"We don't want anyone to perish in an accident and we need the public's help, it's up to them to operate the vehicle in a safe manner and we stress that," Barfield said.
The "Drive to Survive" enforcement period starts on Friday, May 26, at 6 p.m. and will end on Monday at midnight.