As AAA predicts 35 million to travel by car, Erie County Sheriff announces DWI counterefforts

Sep 1, 2017

The AAA estimates 35 million people will take car trips throughout the United States this Labor Day holiday weekend, including thousands of Western New Yorkers. The Erie County Sheriff, meanwhile, is detailing how his deputies will help look for drunk, impaired and distracted drivers.

Law enforcement agencies at all levels will be watching roads during the holiday. Sheriff Timothy Howard says his department will conduct traditional checkpoints but extra roving patrols will also be out.

Tony Spada of the AAA of Western and Central New York speaks at left Friday. At right is Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

"For the hours that are put into it, they don't yield a lot of arrests," said Howard about checkpoints. "So, we still do a mixture of DWI road checks. At other times we'll commit these same resources to doing the roving patrols to actually try to go out and spot drunk drivers and arrest them."

Howard says alcohol gives the people a greater ability to make bad decisions. And with a holiday weekend, there's one more day for people to consume alcohol without having to worry about getting up for work the next morning.

An estimated 35 million people are expected to take one- or two-day car trips this Labor Day weekend, according to the AAA. 

"With gas prices being reasonable this year, it allows people to jump into their car and do a one-day, two-day trip," said Tony Spada, president of the AAA of Western and Central New York. 

An anticipated surge in gas prices, blamed on lost production caused by Hurricane Harvey, has not yet arrived and Spada suggests it will not during the holiday.

"It hasn't hit yet. It certainly hasn't hit on the east coast because refineries on the east coast have still been up and running," Spada said. "But there is an expectation on the east coast we may see a 15-cent bump in the next month or so."

According to the AAA of Western and Central New York, popular destinations among local travelers include the Adirondacks, Cape Cod, Virginia Beach and Washington, D.C.

In addition to monitoring roads for intoxicated or distracted drivers, Sheriff Howard announced the introduction of an updated speed enforcement system. It utilizes cameras that monitor an auto's speed and, on a display board, alerts the driver of that speed. But unlike past models, Howard said this one also collects data on how fast each cars is traveling. That, according to the Sheriff, will help law enforcers determine where and when speed enforcement is most needed.

"You'll see it, probably, anywhere in the county. We hope to be moving it around quite a bit," Howard said. "Other law enforcement agencies are using it as well."

, says popular destinations among local travelers include the Adirondacks, Cape Cod, Virginia Beach and Washington, D.C.