As the official start of summer approaches and more people start to fill local roadways, authorities are warning drivers to be mindful of traffic laws, especially around active construction.

Though summer does not start until June 21, the AAA-designated “100 deadliest days” for traffic fatalities involving teen drivers is already underway.

“Over the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when the number of crash fatalities involving a teen driver historically rise,” according to a AAA press release.

Local experience mirrors national trends showing summer is the busy season for travel and related incidents, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

“Obviously, summertime is a busy travel time of the year. We know that, and interstate history indicates that,” Swanton said. “Waco is certainly in the tourism market now, so we see more people travel into our town, and with that comes people not familiar with our streets, our one-way streets.”

The expansion of Interstate 35 through much of the northern end of Waco will cause slowdowns for the next few years, and planning ahead is always critical for safety while on the road, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Ryan Howard said.

The $341 million interstate expansion is scheduled to last into 2024.

“Kids are out of school and families are traveling a lot over the summer holidays, so traffic is more prominent over holiday weekends and the summer,” Howard said. “The main thing is that we would ask drivers to plan their route out, know where you are going and check your vehicle before you start driving.”

Bringing extra fuel and a first aid kit on road trips is helpful for motorists, and sober driving is critical to keep everyone on the road safe, Howard said.

“Plan ahead, and if you do plan on drinking any type of alcoholic beverage, make sure you give someone else the keys and make sure you aren’t putting yourself in danger, hurt someone else, kill someone or kill yourself,” Howard said. “Use patience, drive the way you learned how to drive and are expected to drive to keep your family and yourself safe.”

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Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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