Blount County (WVLT) - East Tennesseeans who will hit the roads Friday on vacation will join thousands of others taking trips on the first official weekend of summer.
And with that increased traffic, Volunteer TV's Gary Loe reports law enforcement agencies in Blount County will be out patrolling in force to ensure safe summer driving.
Authorities call it a Traffic Safety Saturation Patrol. Police officers hope their presence will encourage motorists to drive safely, and not just Friday, but all summer long.
Drivers may see and hear this often as the official summer driving season kicks off this weekend. Officers from the Blount County Sheriff's Office, THP, and the Maryville and Alcoa Police Departments will use increased manpower between noon and 8 p.m. Friday to saturate the roadways. They want to keep our streets safe.
"It is summer. It's time for vacation, so there's a lot more traffic on our roadways this time of year than any other time of the year," said Sgt. Laura Arnold from the Alcoa Police Department.
Alcoa Police Sergeant Laura Arnold says the saturation patrol will focus on aggressive drivers, speeders and violators of seat belt and child restraint devices.
"This is the time to make public aware of the seriousness of how many accidents we have in our area," Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said.
Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp says the roads targeted in the saturation patrol are among those with the greatest number of vehicle crashes. They include Alcoa Highway, Pellissippi Parkway, Lamar Alexander Parkway, and West Broadway.
"Those are some of the busiest highways that we have in the state of Tennessee, and we do see a lot of accidents," Arnold said.
Authorities say increased enforcement of traffic laws makes drivers more aware of the importance of safe driving.
"If the public is mindful and attentive to their driving, we think that that will make them safer along with the other people that are traveling the highways," Crisp said.
Blount County law enforcement agencies will continue the saturation patrols on a monthly basis this summer. The increased police manpower costs are paid for by a grant from the governor's Highway Safety Office.