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Highway Patrol, MoDOT encourage safety during Thanksgiving holiday

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State agencies are encouraging people, especially drivers, to be cautious when traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Col. Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, reminds everyone there will be an increase in traffic over the Thanksgiving holiday. Drivers should remain alert to changes along their normal route. Regardless of traffic patterns, safety should remain a priority.

The counting period for the 2022 Thanksgiving holiday weekend is from 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23 through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27. Troopers will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E., enforcing all traffic laws and being available to assist the public. 

According to an MSHP news release, over the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday counting period, 12 people were killed and 540 injured in 1,365 traffic crashes. Someone was injured or killed every 11 minutes over the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday.

Before taking a trip this holiday season, make sure your vehicles are in good condition and that drivers are well-rested before they start driving. The Highway Patrol reminds drivers that there is never a reason to speed, drive aggressively, or drive impaired. If your celebration includes alcohol, designate someone else to drive.

The public is encouraged to call the Patrol's Emergency Report Line at 800-525-5555 or *55 on a cell phone if they witness criminal activity or experience an emergency. These phone numbers are operational for both highway and water emergencies. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation is also urging drivers to be cautious, patient and use good judgment behind the wheel during the Thanksgiving holiday. Impaired driving, distracted driving, excessive speeds, and increased traffic are just a few of the concerns that can accompany holiday travel.

According to a MoDOT news release, the night before Thanksgiving has become a popular night for outings at bars, which can result in heavy drinking. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2016 to 2020, more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period, making it one of the deadliest holidays on the nation’s roadways.

To support the Highway Patrol’s efforts with Operation C.A.R.E., MoDOT has partnered with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Lyft, and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) to provide discounted rides during evening hours of the holiday season. The news release states a special discount code for Lyft rides will be promoted during the holiday on social media and in select locations using a variety of platforms, including in bar screens, jukebox ads, and, in some cases, outside digital ads. The discount codes are made available through a grant provided by GHSA, Lyft, and Responsibility.org and are intended to encourage patrons to take advantage of this safe transportation alternative.

With the number of statewide traffic fatalities approaching 900 for the year, MoDOT urges motorists to be vigilant, always buckle up, obey posted speed limits and never drive impaired or distracted.

“Tragedies like these are almost always preventable, and there are easy, simple actions we can all take to end them,” Jon Nelson, assistant to the state highway safety and traffic engineer, said in the release. “Buckle up, put down your phone, slow down, and never drive impaired. It only takes one bad decision, sometimes in a split second, to destroy a life. Do your part, and let’s enjoy this Thanksgiving with zero traffic fatalities.”

Drivers can stay informed of road conditions and delays on MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map at traveler.modot.org, which is also available as a free mobile app.

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