Wolf Administration wants drivers to ‘Know Before You Go’ this holiday

Western PA News

HARRISBURG — Holidays bring families together no matter the distance. This means drivers should expect the Interstates in the commonwealth to be extra busy through the weekend.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reminds drivers of the importance of safe driving and consistent seat belt use.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike expects Thanksgiving to be the busiest travel holiday of the year with 3.15 million motorists traveling during the six days between Tuesday and Sunday the week of Thanksgiving. The periods of heaviest traffic are expected to be 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24.

Thanksgiving Day is when traffic will be at its lightest, but overall, holiday traffic is expected to rise 39 percent over the same travel period last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With traffic returning to heavier volumes and travelers happily focused on holiday visiting, it’s critical to keep safety top of mind while driving to your destination,” said PTC Chief Operating Officer Craig Shuey. “In addition to these significantly higher traffic volumes, motorists are decidedly more distracted as they return to the roadway and will need to be more vigilant for traffic incidents. Be prepared for volume related slowdowns, disabled vehicles, and other roadway obstructions. Also, please remember to slow down and move over for vehicles on the shoulder such as law enforcement, turnpike first responders, and fire and EMS personnel. Give yourself plenty of extra time to arrive at your destination. Be patient and share the road with all who are travelling this holiday weekend.”

Operation Safe Holiday kicked off on Nov. 15 with the “Click It or Ticket” Thanksgiving enforcement mobilization, which is ongoing through Sunday, Nov. 28. During the effort, PSP will offer no-cost child passenger safety seat fitting clinics at several locations statewide, with the goal of keeping children safe on the road.

“This no-cost resource is designed to protect our youngest passengers during a busy time of the year for travel,” said Deputy Commissioner of the PSP Lt. Colonel Scott Price. “Troopers are trained to look for a variety of traffic violations and will remain cognizant during the holiday periods. Travelers can do their part by remembering to slow down, move over, never drive impaired or distracted, and always buckle up.”

Pennsylvania law requires any occupant younger than 18 to buckle up when riding in a vehicle, as well as drivers and front-seat passengers. Children under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, and children under the age of four must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until their eighth birthday.

Throughout Operation Safe Holiday, law enforcement will also conduct sobriety checkpoints with roving patrols and regular traffic safety patrols to crack down on drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol, from now through the New Year’s holiday.

According to PennDOT data, there were 1,000 impaired driving crashes, resulting in 26 fatalities during the 2020 holiday travel period, beginning the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and running through January 2, 2021.

“Working together, we can all do our part to prevent crashes and fatalities on Pennsylvania roadways,” said PennDOT Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa Batula. “We want everyone to arrive safely this holiday travel season, so please designate a sober driver and always wear your seat belt.”

PennDOT is also encouraging motorists to visit the “Historic Holiday Traffic” page HERE, which allows the public to view interstate restrictions that will be in place during the holiday travel period.

To help accommodate heavier traffic, the PA Turnpike will suspend maintenance and construction work and have all available lanes open from now through 11 p.m. on Sunday. Additional maintenance and safety personnel will be patrolling during the holiday weekend. To report a crash or other emergency on the PA Turnpike, dial *11 via your mobile phone and share your direction and milepost location.

For some additional safety tips, click HERE.

The public can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles in Pennsylvania by clicking HERE. The service is free and available 24 hours a day, providing traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras.

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