Extra police patrols, road blocks through through June 5

GULFPORT -- Wherever you travel in South Mississippi over the Memorial Day weekend and throughout this week, chances are you will see safety checkpoints or officers pulling over motorists.

Police, deputies and state troopers across the Coast are making a unified effort to stop impaired drivers and promote the use of seatbelts. The effort is part of the nationwide Click It or Ticket campaign.

It's all about promoting safety, Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson said.

"The overall aim is to reduce vehicle-related injuries and fatalities," he said.

Officers are working overtime for increased patrols and many agencies will hold safety checkpoints.

The increased presence of patrol cars started Wednesday and runs through June 5.

Officials are urging drivers to make sure they and any passengers are buckled up. And make sure to have your driver's license and auto insurance card handy.

"These checkpoints will be conducted in such a way as to pose a minimal inconvenience to the driving public," Long Beach Police Chief Wayne McDowell said.

In the early-morning hours Sunday, 10 motorists were booked on alcohol or drug charges at the Harrison, Hancock and Jackson county jails.

Motorists ticketed for not wearing a seat belt aren't jailed unless they face a DUI charge, a felony or are wanted on a warrant.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol is tracking Memorial Day weekend traffic statistics through midnight Wednesday.

However, state troopers and all area police will continue increased patrols through June 5.

Last May, 68 people died in crashes on state highways. At least 12 died in South Mississippi, according to the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety.

Seat belts save thousands of lives every year, Gulfport police Sgt. Damon McDaniel said.

"Please 'Click It Or Ticket' day and night," he said. "Before starting your vehicle, make sure everyone in your vehicle is restrained, every trip, day and night."