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Safety first, enjoy Labor Day weekend

Can you believe it?

Summer is here and gone.

What summer?

Some will say that season abruptly passed us by.

No matter how hard we try to rationalize, the traditional start of the fall season is fast approaching, always etched in our minds by the onset of the Labor Day weekend and the start of school, which in North Dakota communities is well underway and in Minnesota kicking off right after our upcoming three-day weekend.

For many, Labor Day gatherings are the last, well-deserved 'hurrahs' of summer, before rolling in the docks at lake cottages and welcoming in Monday night football and the other corresponding activities associated with the onset of cooler temperatures (is that possible?), shorter days, and everything else delegated to the fall season.

Labor Day traditionally is a weekend set aside to have fun and that's what we would encourage everyone to aim for this weekend.

There's a catch though - in a safe, responsible manner.

The message we have been hearing loud and clear again through an extended media campaign is that drinking and driving don't mix.

Once again, national and local law enforcement officials are indelibly driving this point home.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol, in cooperation with other state departments and local law enforcement agencies, will be cracking down on individuals who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs the upcoming Labor Day weekend, in an effort to get and keep them off the roads.

In 2007, North Dakota was one of the top 10 states for alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities, qualifying for additional funding to carry on the fight largely in rural areas where accidents are higher.

Of the motor vehicle fatalities recorded in 2007, 63 of 111 or 56.8 percent were alcohol-related and 97 of 111 fatalities occurred on rural roads. In North Dakota, every 9.73 hours there was an alcohol-related crash and 41.4 percent of alcohol-related fatalities had a blood alcohol content over .10.

Last year, those numbers were down a bit, but there were still 48 alcohol-related fatal crashes in North Dakota.

Statistics show that alcohol use and not wearing seat belts continue to be key factors in traffic related deaths.

Nobody wants their Labor Day celebration marred by negative circumstances that could have been avoided.

Enjoy the weekend, celebrate and have fun, but do so in a responsible, safe manner.

A little bit of common sense will go a long way in insuring that a great time can and will be had by all.