Last updated: August 25. 2013 6:03AM - 52 Views

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LIMA - Increased awareness has led to decreased traffic crashes and deaths during the winter holidays, a regional planning official said Wednesday. The next goal is to decrease fatalities around the summer holidays, too.

Tens of millions of Americans are expected to hit the roadways this weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July. Local law enforcement will be out in force targeting impaired drivers, according to Evelyn Smith, coordinator of the Lima-Allen County Safe Communities Coalition.

"It seems the buzzword today is staycation. If you're going to chose to drink, don't choose to drive," Smith said. Just stay home. Do a staycation right at home."

According to AAA, fewer Americans will be traveling this Fourth of July weekend. AAA has projected a 1.9 percent decrease from 2008, with nearly 37.1 million travelers expected to travel 50 miles or more from home.

"Many Americans remain cautious about the outlook for their personal finances and these attitudes are reflected in the slight decline in travel we are forecasting for the upcoming holiday weekend," said Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA president and chief executive. "Those who do vacation this summer will find a plethora of attractive discounts and special offers resulting in some outstanding vacation values."

The Division of State Fire Marshal is also encouraging people to have a safe holiday weekend by attending public fireworks displays instead of purchasing and discharging their own.

"The best way for Ohioans to prevent fireworks injuries is to attend a licensed, professional fireworks exhibition," said Donald C. Cooper, interim state fire marshal. "Keep in mind that even trick and novelty fireworks, like sparklers, are inherently dangerous and can cause serious injury."

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