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ND Highway Patrol to put every trooper on roadways Wednesday

BISMARCK - The day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holiday travel days and this year the North Dakota Highway Patrol is pulling out all the stops to foster safety with something called Operation HITS.

"HITS" stands for high-intensity traffic saturation, meaning all available sworn Highway Patrol personnel will be working the road.

"And that's from the colonel on down," said Sgt. Tom Iverson, a trooper who normally doesn't work patrol but will be on Wednesday.

Iverson estimated there may be twice the typical number of Highway Patrol personnel on the roads Wednesday watching for major factors contributing to fatal crashes: speeding, alcohol consumption and failure to use seatbelts.

North Dakota experienced a record 148 fatalities on its roads and highways last year and this year the number is already at 146, according to Iverson, who said the Oil Patch has been a hot spot for deadly crashes.

He said the northwest region of the state has seen 64 fatalities so far this year, compared to 31 for the northeast region and 30 in the southeast region, including the Fargo area.

Iverson said he doesn't know the last time such a saturation patrol was held in North Dakota, but he said Wednesday's enforcement effort is unprecedented in the nine years he has been with the Highway Patrol.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555