COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Traditional holiday food, football games, and Black Friday shopping go with Thanksgiving but impaired and unsafe driving don't.
That's the message Friday from local law enforcement agencies that are joining forces to increase traffic enforcement during the holiday weekend.
Police in Colorado Springs, Fountain, Monument and Palmer Lake; El Paso County deputies; and state troopers presented a show of strength at the police Special Enforcement department near the Colorado Springs airport.
They'll be watching for drivers who speed, drive dangerously, or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Law enforcement officials say that they are stopping more drivers who are high on marijuana and don't realize -- or care -- that they are subject to the same penalties as drunk drivers.
And as you watch for patrols on duty, a State Patrol airplane will be flying overhead as part of the enforcement effort.
A federal grant covers overtime pay for officers during the operation.
Officials say that this kind of holiday enforcement is necessary because of an increase in traffic, and El Paso County has the highest number of traffic deaths in Colorado.
The enforcement period begins Wednesday and continues through Sunday.
"Most folks leave work or school early in the afternoon, and rush home, or go to the grocery store, or even to the airport," says Sgt. Jason Haag, an El Paso County deputy. "The night before Thanksgiving, people tend to go out to the bars with their friends of family. I implore you -- please have a designated, sober driver or use a ride service."
Colorado Springs officer Gerard Bouwmans says that while he realizes you may consider such holiday enforcements to be ineffective, they're worthwhile if they save even one life.
"I have cited violators who contacted me later and thanked me for doing it," he says. "It made them take the risk of dangerous driving seriously."
So far this year, El Paso County alone has issued 4,758 citations and made 301 arrests for drunk driving.