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Troopers to watch for distracted drivers on the 4th

Troopers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Illinois State Police are urging motorists to keep their eyes on the road this holiday week.


"Our primary focus is just to get people to slow down and pay attention to the responsibility of driving," said MSHP Trooper Juston Wheetley. "Distracted driving is the primary cause of traffic-related crashes in Missouri - that being cellphone usage, texting eating, drinking, even messing with the radio." That's especially important because the Missouri Department of Transportation will not be suspending its work zones.

The MSHP is once again doing its "20-Mile Trooper Project," where troopers are stationed at 20-mile intervals along interstates and secondary roads until midnight June 3. In the St. Louis area, they'll be along Interstates 44 and 70.

"We want people to see us, to know that we're still there, and hope that it slows everybody down," said Wheetley, who says the intensive patrols have met that goal in the past. It'll also be in place again on July 8.

The Illinois State Police has no special patrols planned, said Trooper Mike Link. But he's adding another piece of advice for travelers this week - be prepared.

The heat makes cars more susceptible to break downs, Link says - so let people know where you're going and when you expect to be there.

"That way, if you're late, calls can start being made to the highway patrol, to the local state police, whatever it might be," he said. "And also make sure your cellphone, if you have one, is fully charged, and take the charger with you. And keep water in the car, in case you are stranded out on the road for a while."

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Rachel Lippmann
Lippmann returned to her native St. Louis after spending two years covering state government in Lansing, Michigan. She earned her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and followed (though not directly) in Maria Altman's footsteps in Springfield, also earning her graduate degree in public affairs reporting. She's also done reporting stints in Detroit, Michigan and Austin, Texas. Rachel likes to fill her free time with good books, good friends, good food, and good baseball.