Last Updated on November 22, 2021 by Indiana State Police
Peru, IN. — Thanksgiving travel is expected to rebound to nearly pre-pandemic levels. The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that 48.3 million people will be taking to the roads for the holiday. This is an eight percent increase from 2020. Unfortunately, heavier traffic, combined with declining seat belt use and the prevalence of impaired driving, makes this travel period particularly dangerous for road users.
In response, the Indiana State Police is joining hundreds of law enforcement agencies across Indiana for the “Safe Family Travel” campaign. Over the next six weeks, officers will be working overtime to discourage impaired driving and ensure drivers and passengers are properly buckled.
The high-visibility patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and funds are disbursed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. The patrols will be concentrated around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year’s holidays.
“Troopers will be searching for the few, who endanger the many, by driving impaired,” stated Lieutenant T.J. Zeiser, commander of the Indiana State Police Peru Post. “Officers will also be searching for anyone driving recklessly and will have zero tolerance for seat belt and child restraint violations.”
In Indiana and nationwide, reckless driving incidents remain higher than during pre-pandemic times. As of early October, 683 people have been killed in crashes statewide, which is an eight percent increase from the same time in 2019 and on pace with 2020 as one of the deadliest years in the past decade.
With one of the busiest travel periods still ahead, officers will be working to reverse this trend by focusing on impaired and unrestrained driving, two of the main causes behind the rise in fatalities.
Of the total number of vehicle occupants killed in crashes so far this year, more than 40 percent were not wearing seat belts. Moreover, seat belt use in Indiana declined for the first time in five years from 94.9 percent before the pandemic to 92.9 percent.
“Whether you’re driving for 10 minutes or 10 hours, we’re asking everyone to plan ahead and make safety their top priority,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Don’t be the reason there’s an empty seat at your table or someone else’s this Thanksgiving.”
The department wants to remind motorists that most traffic fatalities can be prevented by taking some simple precautions: never drive impaired, always wear a seat belt, follow posted speed limits and avoid distractions.
Before consuming alcohol, plan a sober ride home, such as a designated driver or using a ride service or public transportation. Motorists are encouraged to call 911 if they encounter an impaired or unsafe driver on the road. Give a location and direction of travel. Never follow a suspected impaired driver.
SOURCE: News release from Indiana State Police