Another big travel weekend is upon us. The State Highway Patrol wants motorists to keep a promising trend going.

Traffic fatalities so far this year are down 15%, continuing a four-year reduction in deaths on Missouri roadways. As we entered July, traffic fatalities this year totaled just over 300 compared to nearly 400 at the same time last year.

“That’s very encouraging news. We want to see those numbers continue to go in that direction,” Lt. Jon Hotz with the State Highway Patrol headquarters in Jefferson City says. “Of course, this weekend as well as the next two months is going to be very important, because we typically see quite a few traffic fatalities during this time of year.”

Hotz attributes the drop in traffic deaths to improved enforcement, education, engineering and emergency medical response, the four “E’s” as he calls them. He also credits motorists with better driving techniques and a heighten awareness of safety.

Many Missourians make beer and other alcoholic beverages a big part of the Independence Day holiday celebration.

Hotz says the patrol doesn’t mind you drinking, but doesn’t want you driving.

“Certainly, if alcohol is going to be part of your celebration this weekend, we want to make sure that you have a plan upfront on how you are going to get home safely,” Hotz says. “Either with a designated driver, taking a cab, maybe staying at a hotel at the destination that you’re traveling to.”

Troopers will be out in force on major interstates and highways this weekend, both as part of the 10 Mile Trooper Program and Operation CARE, which stands for Combined Accident Reduction Effort. The 10 Mile Trooper Program lives up to its name, stationing a trooper every ten miles on the most heavily traveled interstates and roadways. The patrol will also work with local law enforcement to set up plenty of DWI checkpoints.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:60 MP3]