Highway Patrol says drive safely during holiday weekend

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds motorists that many Missourians will travel over the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. This will change traffic patterns and requires everyone to be a courteous, safe driver. If you will be traveling this holiday, please make sure your car is in good condition before beginning your trip. It is also important that you are well rested before you start driving. Remember to buckle up -- seat belts save lives!

The Patrol will participate in Operation C.A.R.E (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) during this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As part of this operation, all available officers will be assigned to Missouri’s roadways to enforce traffic laws, especially those related to drunk driving, speeding, and seat belt use. Troopers will also be assisting motorists as needed.

Over the past several years, the Patrol has used special traffic enforcement projects to further their efforts to decrease traffic crashes and fatalities. This Thanksgiving weekend will include such an enforcement project, a 20-mile Trooper Operation. Troopers will work the road at 20-mile intervals along Interstates 35, 44, 55, and 70, as well as U.S. Highways 60 and 61.

The counting period for the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday weekend is from 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25. During the 2011 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, four persons were killed and another 464 were injured in 1,372 traffic crashes. That means traffic crashes killed or injured one person every 12.8 minutes in Missouri over last year's Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

“It's important that everyone arrive at their Thanksgiving destination safely," said Colonel Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. "Please obey all traffic laws, wear your seat belt, and pay attention to the job of driving--that text or cell phone call can wait. If alcohol is part of your plan, don’t drink and drive. On behalf of the employees of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, I wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.”

Before you head to Thanksgiving dinner, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety urges you to plan your safe travel ahead of time. With increased traffic and hurried travelers, safety needs to your top priority. You can make your holiday travel safer by following these tips:

• Plan your trip. MoDOT has expanded and upgraded its Traveler Information mobile app. This app offers the latest information on Missouri road conditions, work zones, flooding and incidents for iPhones, Androids, iPads and tablets.

• Buckle Up. The use of safety belts and child restraints is one of the best ways to prevent death and personal injury when involved in a traffic crash.

• Don’t Drive Distracted. Concentrate only on your driving and pay close attention to motorists around you.

• Obey the laws of the road. Speeding is a contributing factor of the fatal and personal injury crashes during the holidays.

• Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you plan to drink, designate a driver, or call a cab.

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 you dial this number anywhere in the state, it rings directly into the closest Patrol headquarters.

Of course, no matter how safely you drive you can’t control other drivers. Thus, the Patrol encourages motorists to protect themselves from all types of hazardous drivers by making sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint.

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