Traditionally, Thanksgiving is not only a time for families to get together, it is also one of the heaviest times of the year for traffic, which means an increase in the possibility for accidents and fatalities.
“I don’t know any law enforcement officer who wants to work a traffic accident or especially a fatality during the holiday,” said Eddie Russell, coordinator for the North Alabama Highway Safety office.
In an order to try and make the roadways safer during the holiday, overtime grant money is available through the North Alabama Highway Safety office.
“There will be more troopers and law enforcement officers out looking for speeders and distracted drivers,” he said.
“Motorists can do their part for roadway safety during the Thanksgiving holiday by wearing a seat belt and making sure all passengers in their vehicle do the same,” said Allison Green, Drive Safe Alabama coordinator with ALDOT. “It only takes a few seconds to buckle a seat belt. And those few seconds could be the difference between life and death if you’re involved in a crash.”
Locally, law enforcement officers are already seeing traffic increases.
“It’s already started, and it’s just going to get worse,” said Rogersville Police Chief Terry Holden.
He said with U.S. 72 running through the town, thousands of vehicle are traveling through every day.
“Today and Sunday, it will be heavier than any other time,” Holden said. “People just need to slow down and be aware of their surroundings.”
U.S. 72 also dissects Tuscumbia, and Police Chief Tony Logan said the traffic is already noticeably heavier.
“We’ve already had a couple of wrecks out there,” he said.
AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year.
It is projected that the 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year.
“Thanksgiving kicks off a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Clay Ingram, AAA Alabama spokesman. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”
Logan said traffic on Friday and Saturday also will be heavy as the Christmas holiday shopping season kicks off.
“There will be places opening early and staying open later, which means more people and more vehicles,” Logan said. “People will be out shopping, and we urge them not to forget about what is important and that’s paying attention to the road.
“Don’t look at your shopping list,” Logan said. “Pay attention to driving.”