|West Trenton, N.J. – The weather is getting nasty just in time for the busiest travel holiday of the year. With a little planning and a focus on safety, you can make your Thanksgiving travels the most uneventful of your holiday activities. When gearing up for your trip, prepare for winter even though the calendar still says fall. That means filling your tank, checking your tire pressure and wiper blades, and packing a blanket, snacks & water in case of a breakdown. And to keep your blood pressure in check, just leave early because your trip will take much longer than usual because of traffic and road conditions.
In relation to roadway safety, the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday was no reason to celebrate in New Jersey with eight fatal accidents and 10 deaths over the holiday period. Alcohol or drugs was a factor in six of those fatalities. Four of those killed were pedestrians. These are sobering statistics that we do not want to repeat this year.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re driving five minutes up the road or through several states, the basics of safety remain the same,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Troopers and other law enforcement officers will have zero tolerance for those who create dangers on the roads.”
Distracted driving and aggressive driving are at the top of the list for causing motor vehicle crashes. Troopers will be using a variety of marked and unmarked vehicles to look for texting drivers, unbelted occupants (especially children), speeders, and of course, intoxicated drivers.
New Jersey’s “Move Over” law is still unheeded by many drivers. This law helps protect roadside emergency workers and vehicles including police, fire, medical services, highway maintenance, tow trucks, and official motorist aid vehicles displaying amber, red, or blue emergency lights. Where possible, drivers are required to move over to create an empty lane next to the emergency vehicle. When safely changing lanes is not possible, drivers must slow down below the posted speed limit prior to passing emergency vehicles. Drivers should also be prepared to stop, if necessary.
Increase your travel safety by using these common sense tips:
- Make sure your cell phone is fully charged
- Carry a flashlight with new batteries.
- Bring bottles of water and snacks such as protein bars.
- Insist that all vehicle occupants use seatbelts.
- Don’t drive drowsy. The symptoms of driving tired are similar to those of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Make sure you get enough rest. Use service areas to pull over, stretch your legs, or grab a cup of coffee.
- Steer clear of “road ragers.” Challenging an aggressive driver for a position is a dangerous way to get to your destination a few seconds sooner.
- Use a designated driver. If alcohol figures into your Thanksgiving plans, plan to have one driver stay sober.
- Prepare before you drive. Map your route; fill your tank; check your tire pressure, lights and wiper blades. These simple steps may save you more than just time on the highways.
More than 100 additional state troopers will be supplementing the usual patrols. These troopers are looking for specific violations that lead to crashes, including driving while intoxicated, aggressive driving, and using handheld phones/tablets.
The official Thanksgiving driving period begins at 6:00 p.m. on November 27, and runs through 6:00 a.m. on December 2.