The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 20, 2013

Holiday travel: Drivers will be taking to the Thanksgiving road

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — More than half a million Oklahomans are expected to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA Oklahoma predicts fewer Oklahomans will travel during Thanksgiving than last year but 574,000 will be mobile that week. Of those 574,000, 90 percent will drive.

Nationwide, AAA projects 43.3 million Americans will travel over the long holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent decrease from last year.

Those planning travel for the holiday need to take some extra precautions before hitting the highway.

Enid Police Department Sgt. Justin Hodges said motorists should check their vehicles before hitting the road.

“Buckle up and drive safely,” Hodges said. “Seat belts save lives.”

He said drivers need to ensure children are placed in age-appropriate car seats, adult passengers are buckled up and any cargo is properly secured.

Hodges said vehicles should be checked prior to any long trips, including all fluid levels, brakes, battery and tire pressure. A kit with blankets, extra food and water should also be taken on longer trips.

“Let someone know when you leave, when to expect you and what route you will be traveling,” Hodges cautioned. Make sure your cellphone is charged and your cellphone charger is in the car with you.”

He said drivers need to drive defensively, get enough rest before longer trips and pay attention to the road.

“Use your hands-free device and do not text while driving,” he said. “If you need to send a text message, pull over to do so.”

Oklahoma Highway Safety Office also is urging motorists to take precautions before traveling this holiday.

“While you’re making those important holiday plans, take a little time to make smart choices about your travel, too,” said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Garrett Vowell, impaired driving enforcement coordinator.

Vowell said anyone who attends a gathering where alcohol is served should plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver.

“If you’ve been drinking, don’t get behind the wheel, period,” he said.

He also urges drivers to be aware of the side effects of both prescription and over-the-counter medications.

“Many people don’t realize that medicines can cause impairments, too,” he said. “Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects, and don’t drive if you’re taking a medication that can cause sleepiness, dizziness or impaired reaction time.”