The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year. The Missouri State Highway Patrol wants everyone to remember to be safe as they travel, to be alert and to know that there is going to be more vehicles out on the roadway.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Spokesperson Corporal Juston Wheetley said that with hunting season and deer on the move they have seen an increase of vehicle versus deer traffic crashes.
“With those two factors it’s going to be more dangerous than normal holidays,” said Wheetley. “Also, the fatalities are up over 14 percent than what they were this time last year. Most of that is contributed to distracted driving, speed, alcohol and drug use while operating vehicles. All of the crashes with those factors are preventable, so we are asking people to pay attention, don’t drink and drive, slow down, take your time to getting where you’re going. Make this a good holiday for you and your family, not a tragic one.”
Wheetley said that the Thanksgiving holiday is typically one of their busiest and most deadly holidays. People tend to think that Labor and Memorial Day times are, but it’s not because they see more traffic during this holiday season.
“We will do Operation C.A.R.E. and with that every available trooper will be on the roadways working, to be seen, in hopes of slowing people down,” said Wheetley. “They will also be out taking aggressive enforcement action on any type of dangerous driving and any type of alcohol or drug use while operating vehicles.”
In conjunction with that they will be doing the 20-mile trooper project on Interstates 70 and I-44. Wheetley said the reason they have chosen those two interstates is because during their counting period and throughout the year, those are the two most dangerous interstates that they have in Missouri as far as the number of traffic crashes and fatalities that occur.
“We are hoping that by putting a trooper every 20 miles when we know that the traffic will be amped up, it will remind people to slow down and pay attention,” said Wheetley. “What we are trying to get people to take away from it is just to remember that we want everyone … to get where they are going, but one mistake while operating a motor vehicle could be their last. So just put down the cell phones, pay attention to the responsibility of driving and get yourself and your family to where you’re going safely.”
The counting period for the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday weekend is from 6 p.m. Wednesday until 11:59 p.m. Sunday. During the 2014 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, 18 people were killed and another 469 were injured in 1,151 traffic crashes. That means traffic crashes killed or injured one person every 12.6 minutes in Missouri over last year’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The Highway Patrol’s Emergency Assistance number is 1-800-525-5555 (or *55 on a cellular phone). Motorists should use this emergency assistance number to report traffic crashes, crimes being committed, or other emergencies on Missouri’s highways. When dialing this number anywhere in the state, it rings directly into the closest patrol headquarters.
Approximately 63 percent of Missouri fatal crash victims who are required to be restrained are not at the time of the traffic crash. The highway patrol urges motorists to protect themselves and their passengers by making sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or firstname.lastname@example.org