Heightened highway patrol on tap to keep holiday travelers safe

Officials from the S.C. Highway Patrol say when more than 300,000 motorists hit South Carolina highways this weekend, they won't be alone.

"Drivers can expect us to be everywhere," highway patrol spokesman Lance Cpl. Bob Beres said. "Every state trooper will be working this weekend."

About 380,000 South Carolinia motorists will take holiday weekend trips starting today, according to AAA Carolinas.That would be an increase of about 3 percent from a year ago, a boost attributed to a drop in gasoline prices this month and a decline in state unemployment, said David Parson, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas.

"Travel decisions are planned at the last minute more than in the past," Parson said in a statement. "With gas prices dropping daily, abundant hotel weekend deals and warm weather, 'stay-cations' are losing their appeal."

Many Beaufort County law enforcement agencies say this weekend will be business as usual for their patrol officers.

Spokesmen for Bluffton and Beaufort police say their departments have no special enforcement plans for the holiday weekend.

Capt. Alan Beach, spokesman for the Port Royal Police Department, said town police will be stepping up DUI enforcement.

A spokeswoman for the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Last year, five people were killed on South Carolina roads during the 78-hour Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety.