Local officers provide tips for Labor Day travel

10:The number of people who died in motor vehicle accidents over the 2017 Labor Day weekend.

With Labor Day weekend starting today, the roads across Iowa and the entire nation will be busier with travelers squeezing in one last vacation before fall begins.

And with an increase in traffic, local law enforcement departments are asking drivers to be wary of the roads as they travel to make sure they stay safe should traffic get heavy.

Webster County Sheriff Jim Stubbs said the area usually sees an increase in traffic around Labor Day weekend.

He said it’s important that travelers allow themselves extra time on the road in case delays come up.

“It’s probably not a good weekend to be in a hurry,” he said. “Be safe. Wear safety belts.”

One factor to pay attention to this weekend, in particular, is the weather. Stubbs said forecasters are predicting rain and thunderstorms for much of the Labor Day holiday.

“We could experience some rain or thunderstorms, which will definitely reduce visibility and slow you down on your travel plans,” Stubbs said. “You need to allow for that if it does happen. You need to allow for more time anyway, and then if the weather turns bad, that’s just a bigger delay. It’s important not to get frustrated and try to get there quicker.”

Fort Dodge Police Capt. Ryan Gruenberg said while the city itself doesn’t really see an increase in traffic, it’s very common to see more traffic on the holiday weekend.

“A lot of people are utilizing it as a last travel weekend to spend time with family,” he said.

Like Stubbs, Gruenberg also recommended travelers allow themselves more time to get to their destinations. He specifically pointed out that there’s a lot of construction going on this time of year and said that’s going to cause delays.

“We’re in the heart of construction season around here, and make sure you’re giving extra caution to the construction areas and moving through safely,” he said.

Gruenberg added it’s really important to be aware of distracted driving. He said drivers should put down their phones and instead just focus on the road ahead of them.

“Being distracted could have a pretty catastrophic result,” he said.

Sgt. Nathan Ludwig, public information officer for the Iowa State Patrol, said there were 10 people killed in traffic accidents across the state over Labor Day weekend in 2017.

That’s the first time there have been double digit fatalities since 1995, when there were 12 people killed.

Ludwig said to also be wary of intoxicated drivers, especially since on Saturday the University of Iowa Hawkeyes have a 2:30 p.m. game and the Iowa State University Cyclones have a 7 p.m. kickoff.

“Alcohol consumption/tailgating is always a concern with late kickoff times,” Ludwig said, adding that those who plan on drinking alcohol should have a sober person drive them home or to their destination.

While neither the Police Department nor the Sheriff’s Department is bringing in extra staff this weekend, both said they will be paying attention to anyone who is distracted.

“We’ll probably be a little more cognizant of traffic violations due to the increased traffic, people on the roads,” Stubbs said. “Nothing substantially different.”

Above all else, Gruenberg said officers just want people to be safe.

“As always, we encourage people to take some extra time and make sure everyone has a fun and safe holiday weekend,” he said.

Stubbs agreed.

“Hopefully people travel and get to their destinations and just be safe,” he said. “Observe all the traffic laws and have a good time.”