Safety should be a priority on Memorial Day weekend, Nebraska officials say

May 22, 2018

With the Memorial Day weekend approaching, Nebraska officials Monday offered familiar but important safety messages:

Be mindful of the speed limit. Don’t drive impaired or distracted. Don’t forget to buckle your seat belt.

With millions of motorists expected to take to the nation’s roads for the long Memorial Day holiday weekend, state officials gathered at the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s Omaha office to stress safety.

Col. John Bolduc of the Nebraska State Patrol said the weekend marks the start of “100 days of summer,” an annual campaign aimed at enforcing state laws meant to keep roadways safe.

The patrol, he said, will focus on speeders, impaired drivers and motorists who fail to buckle up.

“If you find yourself impaired,” Bolduc said, “don’t get behind the wheel.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts said the Department of Transportation has awarded grants to 25 police departments and 33 sheriff’s offices across the state and to the patrol. The grants will help put additional officers, deputies and troopers on roadways this weekend.

Ricketts also noted that May is motorcycle safety month.

“We want all Nebraskans to have a safe holiday,” the governor said.

Kyle Schneweis, director of the Department of Transportation, asked travelers to be aware of road workers.

“Summer is also the construction season,” he said. “Watch for the workers, especially in work zones.”

Fred Zwonechek, the department’s safety administrator, said RVs, boat trailers and other trailers add to the traffic mix.

“They can create problems for everybody,” he said, “because a lot of time the motorists only drive these or pull these on holidays.”

Rose White of AAA said 41.5 million travelers are expected on U.S. roads this weekend, a nearly 5 percent increase over last year. She noted that many of the vehicles will contain cellphones, tablets and other distractions.

“At no time,” White said, “should driving a car become a secondary action.”

AAA’s Tow to Go program will be operating this weekend. For a free tow and ride home for AAA members and nonmembers who are impaired, people should call 855-286-9246.

jay.withrow@owh.com, 402-444-1259