The rush to arrive at Thanksgiving holiday destinations is on today as most school and universities — and many businesses — are either closed or shutting down early in preparation for the long weekend.
Thanksgiving is usually the busiest travel period of the year, and with the majority of travelers expected to be taking the highways, Texas Department of Public Safety officials said all available Texas Highway Patrol troopers will be on patrol.
Texans who will be visiting family or friends a considerable distance from home were urged to consult weather forecasts, because an advancing cold front is expected to bring the summery conditions this area has experienced recently to an abrupt end.
“A strong upper level storm system is forecast to spread rain or snow across portions of West Central Texas Saturday into Saturday night,” Buddy McIntyre, meteorologist in charge of the San Angelo National Weather Service office, said Tuesday afternoon. “Uncertainly exists with respect to the exact track of this potential winter storm system, but with many travelers on the road this holiday weekend, it is important for residents to be prepared. It is important for West Central Texans to always be ready for adverse winter weather.”
Meanwhile, the DPS said its troopers will be looking for drivers who are endangering themselves and others by breaking traffic laws. Troopers are participating in Operation CARE — Combined Accident Reduction Effort — a nationwide effort by police agencies to reduce fatalities on major interstate highways during holiday weekends.
A few of the violations that troopers will be looking for are speeding, driving while intoxicated and drivers and passengers who are not wearing safety belts or who do not have children buckled in safely.
During the Wednesday through Sunday Thanksgiving period last year, Texas DPS troopers wrote 16,794 citations for speeding and 607 for driving while intoxicated, plus 41 for minors driving under the influence. They also wrote 2,390 citations for seat belt violations and 282 for child restraint violations. DPS has a no-warnings policy for seat belt and child restraint violations.
“DPS wants all drivers on Texas roads to have a safe Thanksgiving holiday,” said Col. Thomas A. Davis Jr., director of the DPS. “Highway Patrol troopers will be out in force to remind drivers that in order to arrive safely at their destination, they should follow Texas traffic laws by driving sober, not speeding and remembering to buckle up.”
Thomas said the DPS expects a large number of travelers on the road and encourages drivers to leave themselves plenty of time to get where they’re going.