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Thanksgiving is almost here. And that means many will hit the roads during what officials say is one of the most dangerous holiday traveling periods.
Nearly 1.5 million North Carolinians are expected to travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving — the most since 2005, according to AAA Carolinas.
The Thanksgiving holiday travel period kicks off today and ends Sunday. Due to its five-day stretch coupled with heavy traffic caused by the high volume of travelers on the road, law enforcement officials are urging motorists to be cautious.
“We are asking the public to plan ahead and reduce their speed, increase following distance and avoid districted driving, such as using cellphones and GPS devices,” said N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Bennie Pulliam with Troop C, District 5, which covers Wilson and Greene counties.
Troopers across the state will be out in full force monitoring multiple areas.
“We are focusing on our interstates and U.S. highways and the heaviest traveled areas,” he said. “We are focused on speeding since that’s what causes most of our collisions.”
Troopers will also be participating in the Thanksgiving I-40 Challenge — a joint operation among seven other states along the Intestate 40 corridor, according to state officials. Starting today, troopers will be stationed every 20 miles along the major interstate.
Today and Sunday are the most popular days to travel, according to AAA. Officials say if possible, plan your travel around those days. Thanksgiving Day is the best day to be on the roads, AAA officials say.
During the Thanksgiving holiday period last year, there were 2,746 crashes in North Carolina, which resulted in 1,213 injuries and 23 fatalities, officials said.
Drivers will also notice cheaper gas prices. The national gas price average is hovering around $2.62 per gallon, seven cents less than a week ago. North Carolina’s average is $2.52, six cents less than a week ago and 20 cents less than a month ago, according to AAA.
• Plan ahead: Expect delays and plan to use alternate routes
• Reduce speed: Speeding is still the leading cause of traffic collisions
• Increase following distances: A two-second lead time among vehicles is encouraged
• Avoid distracted driving
• Never drive impaired: Plan ahead and designate a sober driver or use a taxi or ride service
• Lane clearance: If involved in a collision without injury, remove vehicles to shoulder
SOURCE: N.C. Highway Patrol