The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ranks Thanksgiving as the most dangerous holiday for travelers. In an effort to help motorists get to their destinations in one piece this year, PennDOT is partnering with police to encourage safe driving.
PennDOT warns motorists to expect heightened enforcement of seatbelt laws. Officials said that law enforcement will be on the lookout for aggressive and impaired driving. Sobriety checkpoints will pop up around the state, along with the regular traffic safety patrols.
PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters advised drivers who find themselves in bad weather and heavy traffic to "cool your jets."
"If you're on the road and either the weather is inclement or maybe you're stuck in traffic, try to keep calm. A lot of people are on the road with you, and always increase your following distance if you're on slushy or snowy roads, or even if there's rain, you know, give yourself time to react," said Waters.
Some 4,000 traffic accidents were recorded during last year's Thanksgiving holiday travel period, according to PennDOT. That's more than twice as many crashes recorded during the Christmas and New Year's holiday weeks combined.
"Make sure you log onto 511pa.com, or even call 511 before you head out the door and get on the road. Obviously, we don't want people making phone calls and texting while they're driving, but if you check before you head out, you'll see what the road conditions are like," said Waters.
Penn DOT advises rotating drivers on long trips and making sure that you're well rested before hitting the road. Waters said that above all, drivers should remember that safety is more important than punctuality.