Officers ask drivers to avoid distracted driving as they step up patrols over holiday weekend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Many folks are hitting the roads to squeeze in one last weekend of summer fun, but  the Missouri Highway Patrol will also be out, putting the squeeze on drivers.

CARE stands for Combined Accident Reduction Effort, which means if you are driving while distracted or after drinking, Highway Patrol officers are going to be in your rear view.

Highway Patrol officials say last year 10 people were killed and 508 were injured in the state of Missouri in 1094 crashes. Officers say the number one cause is distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatality accidents increased more than 7 percent between 2014 and 2015 in northwest Missouri.  MSHP officials are issuing the perennial plea for safe driving

“Don't follow too close,” Sgt. Al Nothum with the Highway Patrol said.  “And for heaven's sake, don't drink and drive. And when you're out there driving make sure you buckle your seatbelt because that save lives. If you are in a crash, that's going to give you that fighting chance in of surviving.”

"You may be the perfect driver, but the only thing you can't control is that other driver so you've got to be a good defensive driver when you are out there," Sgt. Jake Angle with the Highway Patrol said. "You've got to be looking, gotta have your head up on the swivel, paying attention on what' going on around you."

Officials say at one point fatalities were up early this year but have leveled to almost the same amount as last year at this time. They call it progress and are hoping operation CARE helps keeps the number from rising this weekend.

Kansas highway Patrol is participating in the annual Labor Day STEP (Special Traffic Enforcement Program) campaign, which runs through Monday, Sept. 5. Troopers will spend extra hours working to enforce impaired driving laws, and occupant protection laws.