There is so much to love about Thanksgiving: family and friends, turkey and touchdowns, pumpkin and pecan pies. The holiday should be an enjoyable time, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants all motorists to reach their destinations safely by avoiding distractions and buckling up.
“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for traveling,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT Executive Director. “Motorists should expect extra vehicles on Mississippi roadways. All drivers should take extra precautions to ensure they, and their families, arrive safely at their holiday destinations.”
According to AAA, more than 55 million people will travel more than 50 miles from their homes for Thanksgiving. The vast majority will drive, with the heaviest traffic expected on November 27 and 28.
With more vehicles on Mississippi highways, MDOT urges all motorists to avoid driving distracted. Research shows sending or receiving text messages takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent – at 55 miles per hour – of traveling the length of a football field blind. Drivers who use a hand-held device are four times more likely to get into a serious crash.
“Drivers have one job when they are behind the wheel: just drive,” McGrath said. “Don’t let text messages and phone calls take your attention. They can wait. If it’s urgent, find a safe place to stop or have a passenger assist.”
No matter your Thanksgiving destination, safety should be your top priority. MDOT offers these tips for safe driving this Thanksgiving:
- Plan ahead. The MDOT Traffic mobile app shows real-time road conditions along your travel route.
- Get plenty of rest before driving. Remember to plan frequent stops if traveling long distances.
- Remain patient. With more vehicles on the road, delays are possible along your regular routes.
- Buckle up. Seat belt use is one of the easiest and most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries from a possible crash.
- Always use caution in work zones. Road workers also want to make it home safely to their families for the holidays.
- Watch out for wildlife. Cooler temperatures mean deer and other wildlife are more active near highways. Use extra caution if traveling during the times of dusk and dawn.
- Do not drive impaired. If you do plan to drink, make sure you have a designated driver.
MDOT crews and contractors will limit road construction requiring lane closures beginning the afternoon of Wednesday, November 27. All construction will halt Thursday, November 28, and will resume the morning of Monday, December 2. This will provide maximum travel capacity and minimal construction delays to motorists traveling throughout the state during the holiday weekend.
“Even though most highway construction will halt across the state, motorists should be aware that some lane closures will remain in place,” said McGrath. “Lane closures are there to protect motorists, and MDOT urges drivers to treat these areas as active work zones.”
Oversize and overweight hauling will also be restricted beginning at noon on Wednesday, November 27, and may resume normal travel on Friday, November 29. This does not apply to permitted loads that have 24-hour movement.
For more tips on traveling safe this holiday season, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.
For the most current travel and traffic information, visit MDOTTraffic.com, download the free MDOT Traffic app, and like @MississippiDOT on Twitter and Facebook.