Thanksgiving travel surge: Troopers want you driving buckled, sober, cautious

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – A record number of people are expected to hit the road this holiday season after possibly being separated from their families throughout the course of the pandemic.

According to AAA, there is an expected 48 million people hitting the road this Thanksgiving holiday. That is an 8% jump from this time last year, and the largest one-year surge since 2005.

The Midwest is no different when it comes to holiday gatherings, and Iowa State Patrol Trooper Karey Yaneff said she is expecting Iowans to get behind the wheel this weekend.

“I think with the holiday season coming up that there’s going to be an increase of traffic on our roadways. and with the four-day weekend,” Yaneff said. “With COVID hitting last year, everyone’s excited to get to their loved ones because they probably weren’t able to last year. I think, though, starting on Wednesday, as soon as everyone gets off of work, gets out of school, they’re going to try to get to their destinations as quickly as possible.”

When traveling, the Iowa State Patrol (ISP) suggests using a seatbelt, especially if you are sitting in the front of a car. They also shared statistics involving crashes, saying 945 crashes occurred last year due to distracted driving. Also in 2020, there were 669 crashes involved with speeding.

The ISP often reminds drivers of their “ABC” rule, which means: Always Be Careful.

With the increased traffic, the ISP is teaming up with other states’ law enforcement agencies to make the holiday travel safer by partaking in the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which runs throughout Thanksgiving weekend. The Nebraska State Department of Transportation has granted $25,000 towards this project.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol (SDHP) and Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) are both expecting holiday travel to increase in their areas.

“Thanksgiving is a major travel holiday and that increases the chances of motor vehicle crashes,” Superintendent of SDHP Col. Rick Miller said. “When driving, remember to stay focused;  slow down, pay attention, drive sober, and wear a seat belt. You can think about the holiday and all that good food when you are not driving.”

Around Thanksgiving weekend in 2020, South Dakota reported 198 crashes. None of them ended in deaths. Across the nation in 2019, 279 people died in crashes during the Thanksgiving weekend.

“Troopers will be on the road throughout the entire state this weekend, working overtime to
assist motorists and maintain safe roadways for everyone on the road,” NSP Colonel Bolduc said.
“We encourage all drivers to follow traffic safety laws, avoid distractions, and buckle up, every
trip and every time.”

As always, the ISP, NSP, and SDHP are asking drivers to buckle up, follow the rules, and drive sober during their travels. Drivers are also asked to check weather conditions before beginning the trip.

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