Holiday safety travel tips

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Thousands of people will be hitting the roads this week to spend time with loved ones during the Thanksgiving holiday.

With everyone thinking about family, cooking a Thanksgiving meal and relaxing on a day to give thanks, it is important to be safe while traveling on the highways.

Minden Chief of Police Steve Cropper said it is important to wear seatbelts and travelers need to be aware of their surroundings when driving.

“Use common sense and buckle up,” Cropper said. “The main thing is to give yourself plenty of travel time and wear your seatbelt. Be aware of your surroundings; pay attention to what’s around you.”

If traveling with children, authorities say safety restraint is especially important.

“It is a proven fact that car seats and booster seats save lives,” Louisiana State Police Public Information Officer Matt Harris said. “These devices offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash. However, approximately three out of four child seats are not used correctly. This misuse rate can be attributed to the great variety of child seats available, the great range of children’s weights and heights and the vast array of vehicles in today’s market. These misuses span all races, educational levels and socioeconomic status(es).”

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, about 8,959 lives have been saved by the use of proper child restraints.

“It is important that caregivers ensure children are properly restrained in an appropriate child safety seat, booster seat or seatbelt any time they are traveling in a vehicle,” Harris said.

Every troop of the LSP is recognized by the NHTSA as a child safety seat inspection station. Troopers of Troop G are available seven days a week to inspect car seats.

Harris reminded drivers to be safe and use caution, especially for those who wish to celebrate the holiday with an alcoholic beverage.

“Each year, on Louisiana’s highways, numerous people are killed or seriously injured in automobile crashes that involve impaired drivers, especially during the holidays,” he said. “In 2013, 47 percent of the fatal crashes in (the) Troop G (area) involved impaired drivers, so we ask that you make the right choice and designate a sober driver before traveling to any place where alcohol will be consumed.”

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development urges drivers to use resources available to help make their trip safer during the holiday weekend – Nov. 27-30.

“For traveling convenience, motorists can access up-to-date information about weather-related road conditions, construction activities and other critical incidents by dialing 511 from their (cell phone),” LaDOTD reports. “Travelers can also access this information by visiting www.511la.org. Another option is to utilize the new ‘Way to Geaux’ application to receive real-time, around the clock travel alerts. The hands-free, eyes-free smart phone application can be downloaded on any iPhone or Android device by visiting either the iTunes App Store or Google Play.”

Truckers are reminded by LaDOTD that “all oversize and overweight vehicle movement on all state highways will be prohibited on Thursday, Nov. 27 and Friday Nov. 28. The truck permit office will reopen Monday, Dec. 1.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following tips to make sure travelers remember the rules of the road while traveling:

Buckle up, slow down and don’t drive impaired.

Be well rested and alert

Use caution in work zones

Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.

Observe speed limits. Driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.

Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.

Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.

Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.

If you plan on drinking, designate a driver who won’t drink.

Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.

If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

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