Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts) began in 1977 as a collaborative effort between the Michigan State Police and the Indiana State Police and is one of the nation’s longest-running traffic safety initiatives. Operation C.A.R.E. was formed to deter the three key causes of highway fatalities: speeding, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints.
The vision that initiated the Operation C.A.R.E. program was born in the minds of two men who dedicated their careers to the preservation of life through highway safety measures. Sgt. Gary Ernst of the Michigan State Police and F/Sgt. Gene Neff of the Indiana State Police were first-line field supervisors who got together in 1977 to discuss their mutual concerns. Little did they know that their simple plan for interstate cooperation would lead to the program we have today.
The first Operation C.A.R.E. weekend was the July 4th holiday weekend in 1977 conducted by the Indiana State Police and our department. By Labor Day weekend of that year, the Ohio State Highway Patrol had joined Operation C.A.R.E. Today all 50 states (state police/state patrol), American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U. S. Virgin Islands, and the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec are actively involved in C.A.R.E., making it an international traffic safety program.
Due to the early success of Operation C.A.R.E. during the three traditional summer holiday weekends, it has expanded and now includes the All America Buckle Up Week in May, International Transportation Safety Week in June, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police/National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend.