Our Opinion: Travel safely on crowded roadways during holiday

News Tribune editorial

Since the days when horse-drawn carriages transported people “over the river and through the woods,” Thanksgiving has been synonymous with travel.

The days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday traditionally are the most heavily traveled time of the year.

Among people who travel 50-plus miles from home, the vast majority, more than 80 percent, go by car. Air travel is the next most popular transportation choice, at about 12 percent.

A government fine imposed on an airline Monday for a tarmac delay may prompt airline cancellations, analysts fear, resulting in more travelers taking to the roadways next week.

In anticipation of increased holiday traffic, state, county and local agencies are redoubling awareness and enforcement efforts.

And they will be devoting specific attention to drunken driving, seat belt violations and pedestrian safety.

Sobriety checkpoints will continue to be conducted by the Cole County Sheriff’s Department.

The agency finances three initiatives with $22,248 in traffic grants for 2011-12. The categories and amounts are: $8,000 for five sobriety checkpoints; another $8,000 for DWI enforcement; and the remaining $6,248 for hazardous moving violations.

Jefferson City police will join with other agencies to emphasize the “Click it or Ticket” initiative to increase compliance with Missouri seat belt requirements.

Pedestrian safety will be the focal point of a “Be Safe. Be Seen” campaign conducted by state transportation officials.

The campaign was prompted by an alarming rise in the number of pedestrian fatalities.

Through September, 54 pedestrians have been killed in traffic accidents, compared with 57 similar fatalities in all of 2010.

Pedestrian deaths included people crossing or walking along the road, people who exited their vehicle after an earlier crash and people changing a tire or performing other roadside repairs.

Obeying the rules of the road and arriving safely is the first priority in enjoying the blessings of Thanksgiving with family and friends.

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