If you’re going to be on the road during the Thanksgiving holiday, do your part in making it a safe journey.
My friends in law enforcement and public safety remind everyone that Oklahoma roadways will be filled with travelers this week, before, on and after Thanksgiving. They urge extra precautions to keep drivers and passengers safe.
And remember, Thanksgiving starts the holiday season, when you’ll see more people traveling and more people visiting shopping centers and malls, as well as places to eat.
Any of those can lead to increased stress for the driver.
Officials in the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office advise taking a little time to make smart choices about your travel. Alice Collinsworth, OHSO communications manager.
Last year in Oklahoma, the Thanksgiving holiday period ran from 6 p.m. Wed., Nov. 24, to midnight Sunday, Nov. 28. During this time period, 546 crashes were reported. Six people were killed and 327 others were injured, said Alice Collinsworth, OHSO communications manager. Four of the six fatalities occurred in alcohol-related crashes, she said.
“Law enforcement officers across the state will be out in force during the holiday,” Collinsworth said. “They’ll be watching for drivers who are impaired, who are breaking the speed limit, or who are distracted, and they also will be enforcing seat belt laws. The goal is to save lives and to make sure everyone arrives safely at their holiday destination.”
OHSO also recommends taking these steps for safe travel:
* Make sure all children in your vehicle are placed in age-appropriate car seats and all adults are buckled up.
* If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement, or dial *55 from any cell phone to alert the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
* Plan ahead for inclement weather and make sure your vehicle has appropriate emergency equipment.
* Avoid distractions while driving, such as cell phones and electronic equipment.
* If alcohol is part of your Thanksgiving celebration, plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver.
AAA Oklahoma once again is offering Tipsy Tow services over Thanksgiving to motorists who have partied a bit too much and feel unsafe behind the wheel. The auto club will give the driver and one more person — plus the vehicle -– a free ride home.
AAA’s Tipsy Tow program, free to members and nonmembers alike, will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, and will run until 2 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28, in metropolitan Tulsa and Oklahoma City, as well as in Lawton, Shawnee, Enid, Muskogee and Bartlesville.
“Many motorists may think they are okay to drive but research shows that impairment starts with the first drink,” said Chuck Mai, AAA Oklahoma spokesman. “And remember, the first thing to go when you drink is judgment. After drinking, we tend to make less-than-smart decisions -– like going ahead and driving.”
To access Tipsy Tow, call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) and ask for Tipsy Tow. There are just two restrictions: the tow must be within a 15-mile radius of point of pickup, and there is only one place AAA will take you and your car: home.
For information on Oklahoma road conditions, check The Oklahoman and/or NewsOK.com.