Patrol urges traveling safe during holiday

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 29, 2008

With the economy at a low during the holidays and travel downnationally, Troop M of the Mississippi Highway Patrol is stillprepared for the glut of cars that will be on the roads.

Troop M Public Affairs Officer Sgt. Rusty Boyd said to thehighway patrol – even if the influx of cars is not as large asusual – holiday travel still bigger than the everyday traffic.

“Basically every holiday, we get ready for heavier trafficregardless of what they think,” he said. “We have to be preparedbecause if we don’t get ready and we have a major event, we’re introuble.”

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AAA officials expects the Southeast will produce the largestnumber of automobile travelers in the country during the holiday,predicting 14.1 million people will be on the roads during theweeks of Christmas and New Year’s. Boyd said because of that, hismen have been out since Saturday night.

“We’ll have them out there throughout the holiday, and we’vealready started last weekend,” he said. “Then whatever happensyou’re ready.”

Boyd said the men of Troop M will be running line patrols, aswell as having extra troopers on the road. And people had best weartheir seat belts and drive sober, because the troopers won’t beafraid to ask for I.D.

“I’m sure we’ll have some roadblocks and stuff,” Boyd said. “Ourholiday crackdown runs from Wednesday evening at 6 to Sunday atmidnight the week of Christmas, and the same schedule for NewYear’s week.”

Above all, Boyd said, with the increased number of motorists onthe road, defensive driving is a must.

“Pay attention, watch out for the other guy, and be patient,” hesaid. “We don’t know what kind of weather we’re going to have, butmake sure to account for any kind of inclement weather when you’redriving.”

Last year’s Christmas holiday roundup was free of fatalaccidents, while the New Year’s brought a pedestrian struck onInterstate 55 in Lincoln County and a fatal accident in WilkinsonCounty. Boyd said in the end, saving lives is what all theincreased law enforcement on the roadways is about.

“We don’t like to have fatalities, especially during theholidays,” he said.