Officers increase presence on Missouri roadways during Labor Day weekend

SPRINGFIELD, Mo --  State Highway Patrol troopers are set to participate in several statewide efforts to protect drivers during Labor Day weekend. With more cars expected to be out on the highways, law enforcement officials say it's especially important to monitor the roads more carefully.

After a six year decline in Labor Day weekend traffic accidents and fatalities throughout the state, those numbers shot up during this time in 2012. Last year there were 7 fatalities, 413 injuries and 1,086 traffic accidents throughout the state during the three day holiday weekend counting period. That means someone was killed or injured roughly every 11 minutes on Missouri roadways.

On Friday state troopers began a Combined Accident Reduction Effort, otherwise known as Operation C.A.R.E. It's an effort to get every available officer in Missouri out on the roads enforcing speed limit, safe driving practices, and alcohol related laws.

Highway patrol officers are also taking part in the "20 mile trooper project," meaning troopers will be staggered at 20 mile intervals on highways and roads throughout the state.

While this may seem like a lot of manpower, troopers say they are willing to go the extra mile to protect drivers.

"We do it for the safety of those that are traveling through the state of Missouri. If a person recognizes that there may be a trooper out there to assist them if needed, a lot of times that may keep people focused a bit more on their safe driving behavior," said Sergeant Jason Pace with the Missouri Highway Patrol Troop D.

Troopers say if you are traveling this weekend and need help from an officer, dialing star *55 on your cell phone gets you connected to the nearest troop Headquarters.