Labor Day is no vacation for E. Texas DPS troopers

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Texas Department of Public Safety troopers are out in droves for the wrap up of Labor Day Weekend. An East Texas News reporter got the chance to ride along with a trooper today and see for herself the world of the freeway through a patrol officer's eyes.

"'Hey, how are you doing? DPS trooper David Hendry said to a motorist on Labor Day. "I'm with the highway patrol - just checked you on your speed there a little bit."

Labor Day is no vacation for DPS troopers.

"We look for violations -that the violators might not see us but the key thing is just safety - safety on our part and safety for the other motorists," Hendry said. "Typically the holiday travel is heavier depending on the time of day."

The biggest thing troopers are seeing?

"We're seeing a lot now of tradition violations that have been there in the past - speed, but one thing that we are seeing now is distractions," Hendry said.

Cell phones, messing with the radio, or even not paying attention are factors that could lead to Labor Day crashes.

The main areas for speeding are the roadways that link Tyler to Houston.

"This is a warning," Hendry said to one motorist he had stopped.  "It doesn't have a fine with it, and it won't go on your driving record."

Hendry gave some tips to drivers on how to get to their destinations safely.

"Pay attention while you're driving; be patient," Hendry said. "Give the guy in front of you a break. We want you to arrive at your destination safely even if you're a little bit late."

Despite what most motorists might think about patrol officers, Hendry says their safety is also a top priority.

"You don't want to get out there too close and get struck by a car so there's several different factors that we have to keep in mind while we have a violator stopped," Hendry said.

But the biggest worry?

"Labor Day Weekend is a big day for DWI arrests, so remember that the next time you get behind the wheel after having those few drinks, Hendry said. "A DPS trooper might be watching you," Hendry said.

In September of 2012, nearly 1,800 DWI drivers were arrested by DPS troopers in the state of Texas. That means the DWI costs for those drivers in total was about $30 million.

Hendry says they'll generally get most of those drivers the day before Labor Day, but you never know what might happen.

So that's why it's a good idea to buckle up, put down the distractions, and hit the road.

Hendry said they are always on the lookout for hazardous driving and will be watching even when you least expect it.

Copyright 2013 KTRE. All rights reserved.