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JACKSON, MISS. — Historically, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel holidays in America. This year AAA estimates that 48.3 million people will travel to their Thanksgiving destination by car. They also expect travel numbers to increase by 13 percent from last year. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) reminds motorists to avoid distractions and buckle up.
“Thanksgiving travel is expected to increase this year, meaning there will be more motorists on the road with you,” said Brad White, MDOT Executive Director. “Motorists should watch their speeds and obey all traffic laws to ensure they make it safely to their holiday destinations.”
No matter how many vehicles are on Mississippi highways, drivers should avoid driving distracted. Research shows sending or receiving text messages takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent – at 55 miles per hour – of traveling the length of a football field blind. Drivers who use a hand-held device are four times more likely to get into a serious crash.
“It only takes a second for a distraction to cause a wreck,” White said. “Don’t let text messages and phone calls take your attention. They can wait. If it’s urgent, find a safe place to stop or have a passenger assist.”
No matter your Thanksgiving destination, safety should be your top priority. MDOT offers these tips for safe driving this Thanksgiving:
- Plan ahead. The MDOT Traffic mobile app shows real-time road conditions along your travel route.
- Get plenty of rest before driving. Remember to plan frequent stops if traveling long distances.
- Buckle up. Seat belt use is one of the easiest and most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries from a possible crash.
- Always use caution in work zones. Maintenance workers also want to make it home safely to their families for the holidays.
- Watch out for wildlife. Cooler temperatures mean deer and other wildlife are more active near highways. Use extra caution if traveling during dusk and dawn.
- Do not drive impaired. If you do plan to drink, make sure you have a designated driver.
MDOT also encourages you to know before you go. Check your destination for any local regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help keep traffic moving, MDOT crews and contractors will limit road construction requiring lane closures beginning the afternoon of Wednesday, November 24, through the morning Monday, November 29. All construction will halt Thursday, November 25. This will provide maximum travel capacity and minimal construction delays to motorists traveling throughout the state during the holiday weekend.
“Even though most highway construction will halt across the state, motorists should be aware that some lane closures will remain in place,” said White. “Lane closures are there to protect motorists, and MDOT urges drivers to treat these areas as active work zones.”
For more tips on traveling safe this holiday season, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.
For the most current travel and traffic information, visit MDOTTraffic.com, download the free MDOT Traffic app, and like @MississippiDOT on Twitter and Facebook.
MageeNews.com is an online news source serving Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.