Officials are predicting nearly 51 million motorists will travel 50 miles or less from their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving. Though those are national statistics, local law enforcement agencies know …
Officials are predicting nearly 51 million motorists will travel 50 miles or less from their homes to celebrate Thanksgiving. Though those are national statistics, local law enforcement agencies know that this week and, and the weekend, will see an increase in local traffic.
Those agencies are preparing for the holiday by having extra patrol and stressing the need to follow basic rules of the road as they travel Interstate 75 and other major roadways in Cleveland and Bradley County.
"Thanksgiving is a great time of year, but it sends many into a hustle toward the Christmas holidays. Friends and family come together to spend time eating and shopping, and with that comes more people and more traffic," said Cleveland Police Chief Mark Gibson. "Remember, there will be a lot of traffic on the roads, so focus on your responsibility to drive in a manner that keeps you, your passengers, other drivers and pedestrians safe."
Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson said motorists need to remember these three important safety measures. "Don't drink and drive, don't text and drive, and always wear your seatbelt."
Watson said that the BCSO is partnering with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office during the holidays to ensure safety on Bradley County roadways for all motorists.
"Our agency’s Thanksgiving Holiday Enforcement Campaign will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, and end at midnight on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. Our Public Safety Unit with joint-effort from our Patrol Division will be focusing on distracted/impaired driving, speeding, and seat belt usage," the sheriff said. Motorists who are speeding, driving while impaired or distracted (on mobile devices), and not belted properly will be at risk of being cited.
Watson said special emphasis will be placed on identification of impaired and/or distracted drivers during specialized patrols, and there will be no tolerance for drivers who make the decision to drive while impaired and will be subject to arrest and other severe penalties.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be monitoring traffic in the area, primarily on I-75.
"THP will have every available trooper working this holiday week. Troopers will be working extended shifts and focused on the interstate both Wednesday and Sunday, as these are excepted to be the heaviest travel days," said Lt. John Harmon of the THP.
"THP’s No. 1 message is for everyone to arrive alive to their destinations," Harmon added.
Harmon also had a few safety tips for motorists.
No. 1, everyone buckle up. No. 2, don't drive distracted. No. 3, watch your following distances as traffic will be heavier in the coming days and drivers need to be prepared for sudden stops, and No. 4, have a designated driver if you choose to have any alcoholic beverages.
Both Gibson and Watson stressed that locals should also be prepared for holiday shopping.
"In anticipation of Black Friday, we remind everybody to always protect yourself while shopping," the police chief stressed. "It’s always a great practice to shop in groups, never leave a wallet or purse unattended, and hide all shopping bags within your vehicle to diminish the probability of becoming a victim. "
The sheriff agreed.
"Please be intentionally aware of your surroundings at all times." Watson said.". Make sure to keep your belongings safeguarded by securing your home and vehicles. Don’t leave personal items or valuables in plain view in your vehicle. Plan ahead and leave a little earlier when scheduled to be somewhere."
All three officials said with approximately 1.16 million Tennesseans traveling this Thanksgiving, the highest travel volume in a dozen years, please be safe and enjoy the holiday with family and friends.
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.
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