Mid-Missouri agencies prepare for increased holiday travel
JEFFERSON CITY - Thanksgiving travelers this weekend will face increased traffic and the safety risks that come with it, and mid-Missouri agencies are getting ready.
AAA estimates 42 million Americans will travel by car this holiday weekend. 872,000 of those will be Missourians.
An average day sees about 80,000 vehicles using Interstate-70 in Columbia and that number is expected to rise dramatically.
The Columbia Police Department said there were 1,114 crashes during Thanksgiving week in 2014. Those accidents resulted in 376 injuries and five deaths and 109 of those crashes occurred on Thanksgiving day.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is ramping up its patrolling in anticipation of accidents across the state.
"We put as many troopers as we can out on the highways. Not only to enforce the laws but to help people if they are having some sort of mechanical problems," Lt. Paul Reinsch said. "The weather is going to be rainy the first evening, into the second day. We're asking people to increase their following distances, slow down. The roads may be slick with rain. There's still deer out on the roadway. Anything that can cause you to lose control of your vehicle be extra cautious of that."
He also strongly encouraged people to wear a seatbelt, saying that 60 percent of all traffic fatalities happen because someone did not wear a seatbelt.
MoDOT Area Engineer Mike Schupp said "Be prepared for that increased volume in traffic. Plan ahead."
Missouri Department of Transportation workers will not be on the roadways to safety concerns starting Wednesday at noon and will remain off until the end of the weekend.
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