Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Travelers Encouraged to Be Safe

As always, travelers are encouraged to drive cautiously during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays this year. PennDOT is partnering with state and local police forces to ensure the safety of all drivers in a year that AAA says will feature more travelers than last.

AAA projects an 11.4 percent increase in travelers going more than 50 miles to enjoy family and food this Thanksgiving. AAA spokeswoman Bevi Powell said the improved economy is likely one reason for the increase in travelers this year.

“Last year some of the American travelers may have postponed their trip but this year some of the Americans are in a different financial position,” Powell said.

According to AAA, about 1.11 million travelers will drive to reach their destination and PennDot, law enforcement, and AAA all advise drivers to proceed with caution during holiday traveling.

“We’re really asking drivers to think about safety while their driving,” Alison Wenger, a spokesperson for PennDOT says. “Whether that’s wearing their seatbelt or designating a driver if they’re impaired or unable to drive. Also watch for aggressive drivers on the highway.”

PennDOT will have sobriety checkpoints, along with regular police patrols to ensure drivers safety. They also are conducting Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement for the holiday season, and if a driver is pulled over for a driving violation and doesn’t have his or her seatbelt on, they are subject to a second citation.

More than 500 of the reported 4,500 accidents last holiday season were alcohol-related and in an attempt to reduce that number, AAA is running a “Take the Pledge” viral campaign that asks drivers to be responsible and let another drive is they are impaired.

“We’re asking people to go online and go to www.takethepledge.aaa.com, sign up that you are committing to drive sober and also to pass that message on their Facebook and email it to their friends and family,” Powell says.

The best advice Powell and Wenger have to offer is to plan ahead for your trip and leave early.

“If you’re flying make sure you that you arrive at the airport at least two hours in advance,” Powell says. “If you’re driving make sure that you leave yourself enough time that you can leave safely and not feel rushed.”

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