Updated: Nov 24, 2021
Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest travel periods of the year. For 2021, AAA has estimated that 48.3 million Americans will travel by automobile over the Thanksgiving holiday; an 8% increase over 2020.
The Indiana State Police Pendleton District wants to remind every motorist of the importance of driving responsibly during this holiday period. Troopers will join hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the state for the Safe Family Travel campaign. Over the next six weeks, officers will be out in greater numbers to discourage impaired driving and ensure drivers and passengers are properly buckled.
The high-visibility patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and will concentrate around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
"Driving impaired, not wearing a seat belt and speeding are always concerns around this time of year and our Troopers will be searching for the few, who endanger the many, by driving impaired," stated Lieutenant Mike O'Rourke, commander of the Indiana State Police Pendleton Post.
In Indiana and nationwide, reckless driving incidents remain higher than during pre-pandemic times. As of early October, 683 people have been killed in crashes statewide, which is an 8 percent increase from the same time in 2019 and on pace with 2020 – one of the deadliest years in the past decade.
Of the total number of vehicle occupants killed in crashes so far this year, more than 40 percent were not wearing seat belts. Moreover, seat belt use in Indiana declined for the first time in five years from 94.9 percent before the pandemic to 92.9 percent.
Last year during the Thanksgiving holiday period, there were 2,352 crashes in Indiana resulting in 450 injuries and eight fatalities.
November is also one of the heaviest months for car versus deer collisions. During the 2020 Thanksgiving period, there were 352 crashes involving deer; resulting in two injury crashes and four total injuries.
As you prepare for your travels this Thanksgiving, Troopers are encouraging all motorists to obey these simple travel safety tips:
Ensure you are well-rested, especially if you have plans to travel a long distance. A fatigued driver is a dangerous driver and often mimics the driving behavior of an impaired driver.
Avoid driving distracted. Don’t use your cellphone while driving. Indiana is a "Hands-Free" state.
Avoid “hanging out” in the left lane on multiple-lane highways.
Always follow other motorists at a safe distance.
Obey all speed limits and use your turn signals.
Ensure everyone is buckled-up.
Don’t drink and drive.
If your holiday activities include alcohol, plan ahead to have a sober ride home.