As Oregonians anticipate a three-day weekend for Labor Day on Sept. 5-7, government agencies are reminding people to take precautions to stay safe and healthy.

The Hermiston Police Department announced it is conducting extra patrols for impaired or distracted drivers from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7. The overtime is being covered by a grant from Oregon Impact, a nonprofit focused on reducing impaired driving through education and enforcement.

“Whatever plans you may have for this upcoming Labor Day Holiday; have fun, but please be safe and responsible,” the announcement on Facebook read. “Remember: DUII can also apply to other (legal and illegal) drugs besides alcohol.”

Other law enforcement agencies, including the Oregon State Police, have announced similar patrol increases for the holiday.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has announced it is expecting more Labor Day traffic on Eastern Oregon highways than usual because COVID-19 is prodding people to stay closer to home — causing them to drive to their destination instead of fly.

A news release from ODOT described Eastern Oregon as a “favorite destination” for Oregonians from other parts of the state this summer and stated that such travelers have already caused “significant congestion on roads throughout the region” on other weekends.

Drivers are being warned to expect heavy, slow traffic over the next week, particularly at the beginning and end of the three-day holiday weekend, and are advised to plan accordingly.

“Don’t use back roads to get around traffic congestion; these roads are typically unimproved and present a number of potential hazards,” the news release stated.

The department is asking people to pay extra attention to safe driving, including following speed limits and directions on signs, putting away cellphones and not driving impaired by alcohol or drugs. Travelers should pack masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes and plan their trip to maintain as much social distancing as possible, and keep their fuel tank at least half full.

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