Mississippi Highway Patrol will be out in force monitoring holiday traffic over the weekend. As MPB's Mark Rigsby reports, drivers are urged to make good decisions behind the wheel.
The highway patrol says troopers will be highly visible during Christmas travel time. There will be checkpoints on roads across the state, to remove impaired drivers and make sure seat belts are being used. Captain Johnny Poulos says the goal is for everyone to make it home safely. He says troopers will do their part, but motorists must make good choices.
"If you're going to include alcohol in your celebration throughout the period, please designate a sober driver. Another thing, avoid distractions while you're driving. Texting while driving takes your focus off the roadway. We deal with crashes, and unfortunately, loss of life."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration traffic fatalities in the U.S. increased approximately 5% from 2015 to 2016. American Medical Response, an emergency response ambulance company operating in Mississippi, is urging drivers to use caution. Eric Phillips is an AMR paramedic supervisor.
"A large part of it is just the fact that we have so many more people on the road this time of the year. If you have more people that are out there, the ones that are distracted, doing texting and driving, worried about the other drivers, people that are in too big of a hurry to get places. Of course, the alcohol factor does increase this time of year."
There were 141 traffic crashes, and 3 fatalities in Mississippi during the Christmas enforcement period last year. The traffic enforcement period this year starts tonight and runs to midnight on Christmas Day.