Mississippi Highway Patrol raises safety awareness for summer

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The summer months are upon us, and that means a lot more traffic on the roads. Kids are out of school, families are traveling and more people are out and about. The Mississippi Highway Patrol wants to make sure that people are aware of the possible dangers and the responsibility it takes to get behind the wheel.

When it comes to driving, most people know what to do to stay safe on the roads, but how many actually practice what they preach? MHP is hoping to make that as many as possible.

"We're focusing on safe driving in all aspects," said Lt. Johnny Poulos.

The MHP's plan of action is the D.R.I.V.E. program, or Driving Requires Initiative, Values and Education. There will be extra attention on seatbelt usage, impaired driving and the increasing cases of distracted driving.

Poulos said that texting and driving is one of the department's biggest problems, but the distractions don't stop when people put their cell phones down.

"Any type of distraction in your vehicle which would cause you to lose focus off of the roadway can take life," said Poulos.

Those distractions could include changing a CD out, checking on a baby in the backseat or even eating.

Poulos says the last thing he or any of his coworkers want to do is knock on someone's door with the worst possible news. D.R.I.V.E. has a campaign to crack down on those who aren't keeping their eyes on the road. It's called Pay Attention or Pay a Fine.

"If we spot someone that is not focused on the road, we're going to pull you over," said Poulos.

According to Poulos, the initiative isn't about writing more tickets.

"Our main mission is to make sure families make it home," said Poulos.

This is the second year for the highway patrol to take part in the D.R.I.V.E. initiative. Although it's kicking off for the summer, it's a year round program to try to keep highways safe.

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