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Thanksgiving will be busiest travel holiday of the year; PennDOT and state police highlight safety

Matt Slocum
'Historic holiday traffic' is expected for Thanksgiving week 2022

HARRISBURG, Pa. - As we enter the holiday season, travelers will encounter busier than usual roadways.

Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are urging travelers to drive safely, without distraction and free from the effects of drugs and alcohol.

Mark Compton, CEO of PA Turnpike, said Thanksgiving will be the busiest travel holiday of the year, with 3.5 million people on the road between Nov. 22-27. Compton said “the worst of those days” will be Wednesday, when there will be about 690,000 vehicles on the road.

State police will conduct sobriety checkpoints and roving patrols to crack down on drunk or distracted driving starting Wednesday until the New Year’s holiday.

According to PennDOT data, last holiday season – between the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2021 until January 2, 2022 – there were 1,276 crashes involving drunk drivers resulting in 41 deaths.

“We want all travelers to stay safe this holiday season,” Compton said. “Holiday activities can increase our levels of stress and fatigue, and this can contribute to distracted driving.”

State police will also offer free child safety seat checks and training through Nov. 27. More information on how to get an appointment is available on the state police’s website.

“Child safety seats reduce crash deaths and injuries, yet troopers cited 1,200 drivers last year for not having children secured. That is unacceptable,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Richard, state police deputy commissioner of operations.

Officials say PennDOT and the turnpike will remove lane restrictions and suspend construction projects wherever it can, but they encourage drivers to visit the “Historic Holiday Traffic” page, to look up any construction-related traffic obstructions beforehand.