SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The Memorial Day holiday period has started, and so has the traffic throughout South Mississippi.
AAA estimates that it could be the busiest holiday travel day in 10 years. With an increase of more than 5 percent over last year, law enforcement officials are well aware of what's out there.
"We're going to be looking for the distracted driver, the reckless driver, the careless driver," said Lt. Johnny Poulos of the Mississippi Highway Patrol. "Just due to the fact that we're going to have a lot of vehicles, a lot of families on the road just trying to reach their destination, you're going to see a huge MHP presence this weekend."
Checkpoints all throughout the state have been set up by the highway patrol. The holiday period officially lasts through midnight on Monday, and checkpoints will change throughout that period.
"It's a huge tool when it comes to getting impaired drivers off the road, improve seatbelt usage and actually help check child restraints."
That's also a priority with the Harrison County Sheriff's Department with its current "Click it or Ticket" campaign, especially during the holiday. While Mississippi seatbelt usage is low, Sgt. Charles Overstreet says Harrison County is at 90 percent, which is higher than the national average of 87 percent.
"We're real proud of that," Overstreet said. "It's saving lives and cutting down on injuries."
But that hasn't lulled officials into complacency.
"It's definitely worth the time to put your seatbelt on," he said. "Seatbelts won't save all lives, but it would dramatically decrease the fatality rate."
Poulos said having a travel plan is the best way to stay safe and stay out of trouble.
"If you have a destination in mind, sometimes it really helps out a lot to leave early. That way you're not under pressure to possibly speed, to be distracted in some form or fashion."