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Holiday road surveillance to increase in Brookhaven, Lincoln County

The smell of pumpkin pie is permeating the air, and AAA estimates nearly 46 million Americans will hit the road this Thanksgiving in search of their favorite holiday foods.

In response to such a heavy boon in interstate traffic, the Mississippi Highway Patrol will augment its presence on major roadways — starting tonight at 6 p.m.

Officially known as Operation Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort, the statewide increase in uniformed patrols will last until midnight Sunday.

Operation CARE is a major effort on behalf of state law enforcement to keep motorists out of harm’s way during the Thanksgiving season.

Cpl. Brandon Fortenberry of MPH Troop M said his officers investigated 17 crashes, made 10 DUI arrests and issued 376 total citations during last year’s extended holiday patrol.

Troop M — responsible for covering Lincoln, Lawrence, Pike, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Amite, Walthall and Wilkinson counties — plans to reduce incidences related to holiday travel by beefing up surveillance along state and federal highways.

All available state troopers will be assigned to saturation patrols in order to combat speeding and issues associated with distracted driving.

The State of Mississippi believes broadened highway surveillance is important during the holiday season, because Thanksgiving drivers tend to be sidetracked by technology.

According to research conducted by MDOT, sending or receiving text messages takes a motorist’s eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds. Driving at 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of traveling the length of a football field blind.

While state police monitor important thoroughfares, local law enforcement will concentrate on combating increased community crime.

Brookhaven Chief of Police Kenneth Collins said his team will be on the lookout for drivers under the influence of alcohol, and city law enforcement plans to set up random checkpoints.

“We focus on drivers that are impaired,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office will mostly stick to rural areas and quieter roadways.

“We focus on our county roads,” Sheriff Steve Rushing said. “We have a couple of extra deputies out, but we don’t saturate the roads like Highway Patrol does.”

Story by Trapper Kinchen