News

Fireworks Gawkers on Loop 202 Freeway to be Targeted by DPS

You and your buddies are speeding on the Loop 202, drunk, on July 4. You see explosions of red, white and blue in the sky. You pull to the shoulder, take a leak, set up a blanket to watch...

...and find yourself in the most trouble of your life.

The Department of Public Safety will be out in force on Independence Day, ticket books at the ready, hunting for folks crazy enough to do something like that. The state agency [wait a minute -- are they still open?] sent out a news release this morning threatening to "aggressively" go after gawkers, especially if they're snookered.

The most common problem, though, is drivers who slow down and peer up at the fireworks.

We understand why drivers might be compelled, under the rockets' red glare, to try to watch the show even while moving at 74 miles per hour. The height of the raised thoroughfare makes for great views of the annual fireworks display in Tempe, as well as for smaller light shows in the distance. Last year, the DPS investigated two collisions on the 202 in each direction during the Tempe show, including one that caused minor injuries. Two of the four also involved DUI arrests. The DPS advises it's probably best to avoid the freeway, if you can, because of the expected traffic.

The DPS also included these warnings for people who might mistake the Loop 202 for a country road:

Do not stop or pull over on freeways to view fireworks displays

The DPS will have an increased number of motor squads on the freeways to make sure motorists are not stopping to view fireworks

Unattended vehicles will be immediately removed

Drivers who are found to have stopped on the freeway to watch the fireworks will be cited.

Impaired drivers will be aggressively targeted as well.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.