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Troopers on alert for Fourth weekend

The Independence Day weekend is one of travel and fun for manyMississippians, and law enforcement presence on the road is agiven.

But a recent study by the National Motorists Association showsthat Mississippi ranks 13th on the list of states where motoristsare most likely to be given a ticket.

Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop M Public Affairs Officer StaffSgt. Rusty Boyd said troopers aren’t focused on writing tickets,but they are looking to keep the roadways safe.

“We’ve got the regular shift out there, plus callbacks everyday,” he said, adding that troopers are assigned a certain stretchof highway during certain periods of time.

And it’s not just speeders they’re watching for.

“It’s easy to see from here if people are wearing theirseatbelts,” said Trooper Adam Speeg as he watched his radar onHighway 84 just west of Jackson-Liberty Road Friday. “And sometimesthey’re just not paying attention and they’ll actually turn up abeer.”

Troopers will position themselves along the highway, sometimesobscured from view and sometimes in the open. Boyd said they’re arelooking for anything suspicious.

“Erratic driving, things wrong with the vehicle, inspectionstickers that are out, illegal tint, seatbelts, child restraints,expired tags,” he said. “And lately we’ve seen a lot of tintedcovers over tags. You can’t cover a tag with anything that keeps itfrom being visible.”

In spite of Troop M’s dedication – and that of the entireHighway Patrol – Boyd said he doesn’t know that there is actually amarked difference in writing tickets in Mississippi as opposed toanywhere else in the area. He said at a conference he went torecently in St. Louis, Mo., the subject of tickets came up.

“Talking to the eight or nine other states represented, we alldo pretty much the same things,” he said.

Meanwhile, Highway Patrol is looking into a new system that willmake ticketing easier on everyone involved. In the very nearfuture, MHP will go to the e-ticket system, which will computerizemuch of the process and cut out a lot of the paperwork.

“That’s the reason for the bar code on the back of the license,”Boyd said. “You can slide it through a device and it will enter allthe information, then the trooper types in the code for theviolation and the printer will print out a copy of the ticket.”

Boyd said that will not only save paperwork, but road miles andgas money, too.

“The ticket will be sent to Jackson to the court, and it’ll beelectronic instead of having to deliver a paper copy,” he said.”The computer will take care of most everything … It’ll save alot of driving.”

But the ticketed party will still have to go to court if theywant to protest the ticket, Boyd said.

“That’ll always be there,” he said with a laugh.

In the meantime, he advised motorists to simply be careful onthe road, not only during the Fourth of July holiday, but throughthe rest of the year as well.

“Just pay attention, be patient, and drive like your life or thelife of your family depends on it, because it does,” he said.