The long weekend hasn’t yet started for many – but for traffic sheriffs throughout Alberta, the long weekend’s unofficial kickoff was on Thursday, as the crackdown on highway drivers began.

RCMP said on Thursday, about 40 officers from the QEII Integrated Traffic Units based out of Airdrie, Innisfail, Ponoka and Leduc ran coordinated enforcement efforts on the highway - in a crackdown that will continue throughout the weekend.

“We’re going to be out here all long weekend,” RCMP Cpl. Darrin Turbull said. “[We’ll be] looking for impaired drivers, looking for dangerous or aggressive drivers on all the highways in Alberta.”

In one day, sheriffs laid 273 speeding charges – including charges against four different drivers, travelling over 150 kilometres an hour in heavy traffic.

Tickets were also handed out for 24 seatbelt charges, 36 distracted driving charges involving mobile phones, 91 other charges under the Traffic Safety Act, and one impaired driver was removed from the highway and is facing criminal charges.

Police said they’re not trying to put a damper on the weekend; they just want to ensure Alberta’s highways will be safe.

“I know there’ll be lots of drinking and other partying going on,” Sgt. Ian Gillan with Stony Plain RCMP said. “Don’t take it on the road, that’s our message, not on the road.”

Over the weekend, dozens of officers on Alberta’s highways will be using motorcycles, and unmarked and marked vehicles to target problem drivers.

With files from Susan Amerongen