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Officials at Zion National Park are dusting off the welcome mat for holiday hordes this Fourth of July, but they warn travelers: Don't drink and drive.
It's a message echoed by the Utah Highway Patrol, which will be out in force on Utah's highways and byways.
The park in southwestern Utah, visited by more people than any other national park in the state, is enhancing its impaired-driver efforts through increased checkpoints and road patrols by law-enforcement rangers.
Park spokesman Marc Neidig said statistics gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that in the past 25 years, nearly half of all fatal traffic accidents over the holiday weekend involved alcohol.
Officials say rangers will be on the lookout for incidents of public intoxication and disorderly conduct associated with alcohol.
"The Fourth of July is a time when many Americans celebrate with family and friends and enjoy their national parks, but it is also one of the deadliest times on our roadways" said park Superintendent Jock Whitworth in a news release. "The goal of increasing our enforcement efforts is to keep impaired drivers off of the road and ensure that visitors can safely enjoy their time in the park."
Whitworth said anyone caught driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher will be arrested.
UHP Cpl. Todd Johnson said troopers statewide will pull extra shifts this weekend looking for drunken and aggressive drivers, speeders and people not using child restraints and seat belts.
Johnson recommends that travelers plan ahead, know construction areas and don't drive drowsy.
He said nationally the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, including July 4th and July 24th in Utah, are known as "the 100 deadliest days" for highway fatalities because of the number of drivers on the road.
Utah State Parks also wants to stress that boaters and those on the water this summer wear life jackets.
Utah has the fifth highest boater fatality rate in the nation, almost three times the national rate. Motorboats make up almost half of the fatal accidents, followed by canoes, kayaks, inflatable kayaks and personal watercraft. In most fatal accidents, nearly 90 percent of victims were not wearing a life jacket.