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Don't let the beginning of summer be your end

For those heading out of town on the long Memorial Day weekend who hope to avoid traffic and congestion, it may be too late. In some places, you should have left on Wednesday. Yes. Wednesday. While Columbia probably does not have that problem, according to AAA, almost 40 million people will be heading more than 50 miles away from home, which is the largest number since 2005.

But there is some consolation as you are wading through traffic instead of your favorite lake because the price of gas is almost a dollar cheaper than it was last year at this time. That, combined with an improving economy, job market and another long cold winter, seems to be encouraging more Americans to hit the roads this summer. 

Memorial Weekend is the traditional start to the summer vacation season, and it is also the start of the summer fatality season. Long holiday weekends tend to be among the most dangerous in terms of highway deaths, as people head to a lake or cabin and bring along a six-pack or three.

The Missouri Highway Patrol will be working its Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) in an effort to reduce the carnage on the state's highways. Troopers will be assigned to 20-mile intervals on major interstates and highways, like I-70, I-55 and U.S. 60.

They will be watching for all traffic offenses and assisting with any accidents that do occur. Speeding, seat belt use and drunk driving will all be high priorities, and last year the made 146 DWI arrests.

If we need any more reasons to slow down, wear our seat belts and stay sober, last year there were 946 accidents over the weekend, 407 injured and 9 deaths. Avoiding those violations can of a long ways towards helping to keep the start of summer from being the end of your life.

Source: usatoday.com, "Want to beat Memorial weekend traffic? Leave yesterday," John Bacon, May 21, 2015

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