Highway Patrol out in force for holiday weekend

Published 11:51 pm Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Mississippi Highway Patrol is out in force this holiday weekend, writing thousands of tickets and crediting beefed up patrols with keeping motorists safe.

Staff Sgt. Tommy Coleman in Starkville said Friday that troopers had already written hundreds more tickets than over the same period last year.

“Last year we wrote just over 3,400,” he said. “So far this year, we’re already over that with 3,800 tickets.”

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Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain said Wednesday and Sunday of Thanksgiving week typically see the most travelers.

“We’re looking for the heavy volumes of traffic to pick back up toward the end of the weekend. The Highway Patrol will have all available manpower out, particularly on those heavier travel days,” Strain said. “Everybody needs to buckle up and if you’ve been drinking, don’t drive.”

Coleman said the number of accidents were down so far this holiday week compared to the same period last year, beginning the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day.

He says, there’s a heavy travel day left this weekend — one of the busiest of the year — and motorists should continue to “obey the law and pay attention.”

Coleman said the Highway Patrol had not worked any fatal accidents on Mississippi’s highways by Friday, down from eight for the holiday week last year.

“When you haven’t lost a life, you can’t help but be pleased,” Coleman said. “I think the stepped-up man power is really helping.”

Troopers had worked 47 accidents with 17 injuries by Friday. One of the car crashes was alcohol related and officers had cited 35 drivers for driving under the influence, though those numbers were expected to rise.

The Highway Patrol said there aren’t any major construction projects or road closures in the state for motorists to be aware of, but holiday shoppers and sporting events could cause some backups.

Travelers should look for heavy traffic on the roads around Oxford when rivals Mississippi State and Mississippi meet in the Egg Bowl on Saturday, Coleman said.