Several agencies have urged caution over the Memorial Day weekend, with a focus on automobile safety and health.

The New York State Police will increase patrols to combat drunk, impaired, and reckless driving throughout this Memorial Day weekend. The special enforcement period starts Friday and runs through Tuesday.

Troopers noted Memorial Day is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year and police will be out in force to remove impaired and reckless drivers from our highways.

“If your Memorial Day weekend celebrations include alcohol, remember to make safety your top priority and arrange for a safe ride home,” said New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven Nigrelli. “Wear your seat belt, remain alert and above all, drive sober. Troopers will be highly visible this weekend and will have zero tolerance for impaired and reckless drivers.”

Drivers can expect sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols by State Police and local agencies during the weekend. Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement vehicles as part of the crackdown.

On Memorial Day weekend in 2022, troopers reported 213 arrests for driving while impaired, 13,688 total tickets, and 808 crashes which claimed the lives of four people.

This initiative is partially funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. The GTSC and the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation remind motorists that their “Have a Plan” mobile app is available for Apple, Android and Windows smartphones. The app enables New Yorkers to locate and call a taxi service and program a designated driver list. It also provides information on DWI laws and penalties, and a way to even report a suspected impaired driver.

Memorial Day also marks the beginning of the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers, AAA of Western and Central New York reported.

AAA coined the phrase to describe the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day after examining troubling data regarding fatal crashes among teen drivers. Between 2012 and 2021, 6,598 people died in teen driver-related crashes in the 100 Deadliest Days — almost half the total killed all year long. In 2021 alone, 803 people were killed in such crashes, a figure up 25% compared to the figures in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic. In New York state, 19 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers in summer of 2021, and 185 died over the 10-year period.

“Young drivers in high school and college look forward to the summer season and await newfound freedom with a break from school,” said Mike Formanowicz, driver training manager at AAA Western and Central New York. “AAA urges parents to talk to their young drivers about traffic safety and serve as good role models as well. Putting the phone down behind the wheel is a great example.”

AAA driving instructors urge teen drivers to store phones out of reach, obey speed limits, and stay away from impairing substances such as alcohol and marijuana. AAA encourages parents to:

• Talk with teens early and often about avoiding dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment, and distracted driving. Serve as a role model for safe behavior.

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• Always buckle up, and follow posted speed limits.

• Teach by example, minimize risky behavior; conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.

• Make a parent-teen driving agreement setting family rules for driving.

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AFTER GETTING somewhere safely to celebrate, the state Department of Health encouraged New Yorkers to be conscious of food safety, potentially dangerous insects, and harm from UV rays.

“As we reflect on the tremendous sacrifices our military families have made, including those who gave their life in service to our country, we want to make sure the holiday is a safe one that doesn’t end with preventable illnesses,” Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “Many of us will also get together with family and friends to welcome summer over the holiday weekend. To ensure the day is an enjoyable and safe one, I encourage New Yorkers to follow some simple precautions, such as hand washing before meal prep, making sure hot food is cooked to the proper temperature and cold foods stay cool, taking steps to keep pests away, and protecting against sunburn, all of which can go a long way toward ensuring the holiday is trouble-free.”

Food safety starts with making sure hands are clean, especially after handling raw meat and before preparing or serving food. Other food preparation tips include keeping perishable foods refrigerated, using clean utensils to handle cooked food, avoiding cross-contamination between ready-to-eat food and uncooked foods, and avoiding tasting or eating undercooked meat.

More food safety tips for those planning a barbecue are available at

And with the warmer weather comes insects — specifically deer ticks and mosquitos.

Department of Health officials encourage active precautions to avoid contact with the insects, which can cause serious illnesses including Lyme disease and West Nile virus.

New Yorkers are encouraged to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, consider using pesticides, checking for insect bites regularly, and taking steps to control insects by cutting tall grass and eliminating possible breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The DOH has a guide for preventing Lyme Disease available at

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at

City Editor

Bob Clark is the city editor of the Olean Times Herald, joining the staff in 2012.

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