INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Thanksgiving weekend is a notoriously hectic and dangerous time for drivers across the country, but this year could be even worse. Due to an improving economy, nearly 980,000 travelers are expected to hit Indiana roads from Nov. 23 to Nov. 27, which is a two percent increase over 2015, according to AAA Hoosier Motor club.
The Indiana Department of Transportation is encouraging Hoosiers to travel safely and plan more driving time this holiday season.
Although a large amount construction will be halted Thanksgiving weekend, INDOT says some restrictions will remain in place due to ongoing highway maintenance, including:
- I-65 lanes are shifted for widening construction in three locations: between Sellersburg (Exit 9) and Memphis Road (Exit 16), between State Road 44 (Exit 90) in Franklin and Whiteland (Exit 95), and between State Road 38 (Exit 168) and State Road 25 (Exit 175) near Lafayette.
- I-69 lanes are shifted toward the right shoulders for widening construction between State Road 37 (Exit 205) in Fishers and State Road 38 (Exit 219) near Pendleton. Large trucks are advised to use the left lane through the work zone.
- Sections of State Road 37 from Bloomington to just south of Martinsville are reduced to one lane in each direction for Interstate 69 construction.
- Sections of U.S. 41 near Vincennes are reduced to one lane in each direction for bridge construction, including at the U.S. 50 interchange.
INDOT also says drivers can expect an increase in law enforcement officers patrolling the roads Thanksgiving weekend. They’ll work overtime to conduct sobriety patrols, checkpoints and seat-belt patrols.
According to ICJI, there were 533 alcohol-related crashes across Indiana in November 2015, resulting in 220 injuries and 7 fatalities. In the same month, crash reports indicate 285 accidents involved an unrestrained driver or a passenger, resulting in 302 injuries and 16 fatalities.
Indiana State Police offer the following safety tips:
No Distracted Driving
Make sure your cell phones are charged and with you when traveling, but leave them alone while driving. If you are using your GPS, have a passenger man the controls or simply input your destination before you begin your trip. You as a driver should be primarily focused on driving.
Patience While Driving
Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and relax. Thousands of other motorists, which means thousands of other families, are on the same roads you are on, in the same traffic congestion you are in, dealing with the same time constraints you may be experiencing. Being a patient and courteous driver will make the trip more relaxing and, in turn, safer for everyone involved.
Allow for Extra Time in your Travels
If you budget extra time for your trip, dealing with traffic delays will not put you behind schedule or cause you to pick up the speed. Give yourself plenty of time to make your trip, follow the speed limit, and arrive safely and in time for your gathering.
Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving
If you are planning on consuming adult beverages while at your gatherings and anticipate driving or traveling afterwards, have a plan for a sober person to drive you and your family, regardless of how much you have had to drink. Crashes on our roadways due to intoxicated drivers are simply unacceptable and are completely avoidable if motorists are responsible within the decisions they make.
Remember the Necessary Supplies
Car trouble and break downs happen at the most unexpected times. Be sure that your gas tank is full, and that you maintain at least half a tank while traveling. Also, pack a cell phone charger, some bottled water, and blankets in case help cannot immediately arrive to assist you.