RCMP hitting the highways for long weekend

RCMP on P.E.I. are warning drivers that police will be out in full force this long weekend.
RCMP will have more check points and patrol cars on the road for the August long weekend. (CBC)

RCMP on P.E.I. are warning drivers that police will be out in full force this long weekend.

The midsummer long weekend is not usually a focus for RCMP on P.E.I., but 2013 has been a bad year for traffic fatalities. The 12 deaths on the road so far this year is the same as there were in all of 2012.

"This year we decided to use the weekend in the middle of the summer to let everybody they have to slow down and drive within the law," said RCMP Sgt. Andrew Blackadar.

"We've noticed our alcohol-related fatalities are up this year compared to last year. So we want to make sure, just take a pause here, and let everybody know these things are not going to be allowed and we're going to do some strict enforcement."

The four-day blitz, known as Operation Strike, starts Friday with check points, speed traps and cruisers - both marked and unmarked - on highways across P.E.I. Police will be on the lookout for what they call the fatal four: impaired driving, lack of seat belts, excessive speed, and use of cell phones while driving.

RCMP officers normally in plain clothes are being invited to put on uniforms to increase the police presence.

Penalties increased

Drivers who are caught in Operation Strike will face more severe penalities.

The province has, as of Thursday, added an automatic seven-day license suspension for drivers who refuse or fail a roadside physical coordination test for impaired driving, and a 90-day automatic suspension for drivers who are charged.

Operation Strike marks the first time that Island RCMP has set up a province-wide blitz on the August long weekend. Such operations are normally run on the Victoria Day weekend, the Labour Day weekend, and over Thanksgiving.

Island RCMP will track the number of drivers stopped and charges laid. Depending on the results, they may start organizing a major blitz one weekend every month.