NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Susan Bosserman of Harrisonburg, Va., is getting ready to throw two suitcases and a packed cooler into her 2006 silver Honda Accord for a July 4 weekend trip to East Tennessee.
She and husband Fred will be driving six hours to Crossville for a family reunion, and then on to Pigeon Forge in the Smoky Mountains. On the agenda: Hiking, fishing, canoeing “and a lot of food cleanup.”
The two will join an estimated 619,500 Tennesseans who’ll be on the road over the long holiday weekend.
“We’ll be aware of the state troopers,” she said. “And we hope others are too.”
The troopers, in fact, will be out in force. A statement from the Tennessee Highway Patrol said there will be “saturation patrols as well as sobriety and driver license checkpoints across the state.”
Three hundred and seventeen troopers will be working Friday, 270 on Saturday, 266 on Sunday and 283 on Monday.
“Sometimes there are no second chances,” highway patrol Col. Tracy Trott said. “Get this one right — Don’t drink and drive.”
Tennessee had 1,031 traffic fatalities in 2010 and 15 during the July 4 holiday. There have been 429 so far this year, 83 behind the pace a year ago.
“We will be showing zero tolerance during this holiday period,” Trott said.
Additionally, rangers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are ramping up traffic patrols for the busy weekend.
“We want to save lives and prevent injuries, not necessarily arrest individuals,” chief ranger Clay Jordan said.
To help traffic flow, all construction-related lane closures will be suspended during the long weekend. However, motorists will still face the dreaded orange-and-white barrels signaling long-term lane closures on some projects.
The highways are not the only places being checked over the holiday. Authorities also will be on the lookout for drunken boaters and other violators on Tennessee’s plentiful waterways.
There have been 13 boating fatalities in the state this year. In 2010, there was one boating fatality over the July 4 holiday weekend and 19 during the year.
Adding to the state’s vulnerability for traffic accidents is Tennessee’s lengthy and widely used interstate system, totaling more than 1,100 miles. Interstates 75, 65 and 24 are main routes between much of the Midwest and points south of the state; I-40 is an east-west route connecting the two coasts. I-55 connects Memphis and New Orleans.
At any rate, Bosserman has her trip packing list ready: Fishing equipment, one set of golf clubs, beach towels, a laptop, work files and reading material. For the cooler: Water, fruit and some breakfast foods.
“This trip mainly will be a relaxed extended family visit, with a little shopping thrown in on the side,” she said.