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Use caution during New Year’s travel

     With New Year’s Day falling on a Tuesday this year, many workers are looking at essentially a four-day weekend.

     So this weekend’s New Year’s holiday period will go from 6 p.m. Friday until midnight Tuesday. Multiple days could mean multiple parties across the holiday period, with Monday likely to be the busiest time as partiers gather to welcome in the new year.

     All that makes for more than the usual number of holiday travelers on the road this weekend.

     The just-past Christmas celebration period, which also lasted four days, offered a mixed bag in terms of traffic activity.

     The nine counties of Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop M, which includes Lincoln County, saw an increase in the number of automobile collisions. There were also nine reported cases of Driving Under the Influence.

     Highway Patrol officials were uncertain about the reasons for the increase, pointing out that this year’s Christmas holiday period was one day longer than last year’s and that bad weather Christmas Day could have played a factor. Overall, they said, it is difficult to compare one holiday period to another.

     Nevertheless, Christmas tends to be more of a one-location event, with whole families traveling together to reach one destination. Once there, they may stay for an extended period before returning home together.

     The New Year’s holiday, on the other hand, seems to be less family-oriented with only couples or singles on the road and possibly going to multiple destinations on a given night.

     More vehicles on the road means more opportunity for danger and tragedy. Those chances are greatly increased when alcohol is involved, as is all too often the case over New Year’s.

     To combat that, motorists can expect the Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies to be especially vigilant looking out for DUIs and other traffic dangers this weekend. Would-be partiers should remember that, as well as the value of designated drivers.

     To use the familiar seasonal phrasing, the Christmas weekend saw its share of both the nice and the naughty in terms of traffic activity.

     For the New Year’s weekend, we can only hope that the good news is repeated and the bad news is lessened. Be careful on the road this holiday weekend.