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Officials advise safe travels during holiday season

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 02 2012 03:56:25 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 03 2012 07:04:53 AM CST

Driving safely this holiday season

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

This time of year more drivers are on the roads going shopping, visiting family and friends for the holidays, and ultimately creating more opportunities for danger.

Local law enforcement is working hard to make Pennsylvania's nearly 120,000 miles of roads safer.

"From basically Thanksgiving to New Years Penn DOT engages in what they call Operation Safe Holiday," said Penn DOT Press Officer Sean Brown.

Officers will be out in force looking for intoxicated and speeding drivers, and checking for seat belts.  Police will use sobriety check points and roving patrols to crack down on folks behind the wheel.  Crashes spike each year near the holidays.

"If someone had a couple drinks or maybe there's a little ice on the road, these become dangerous places," explained Brown.  "But really a crash and unsafe driving behavior can happen anywhere."

Last year 8,652 crashes happened around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New years, causing 83 fatalities.  Penn DOT says a lot of the time the weekend before and the weekend after the holiday have just as many wrecks.  In 2011 13% of the crashes between Thanksgiving and New Years involved drinking and driving.

Intoxication and speeding continue to be big contributors to fatal accidents.   Add more people on the roads, and maybe some bad weather and officials say it could be perilous.

"Anytime really that they're going out, enjoying time with family and friends can be dangerous," added Brown.

He says if you're heading out over the next few weeks you need to remember to drive responsibly.  Slow down, buckle up and don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking.