Law enforcement remind drivers, shoppers to be safe

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015

FOLLOWING RULES: Drivers move down Highway 11.  Photo by Ashley Collins.

The Thanksgiving holiday is often associated with good food and quality family time. It also happens to be one of the busiest travel and shopping times of the year. Local law enforcement agencies advise people to buckle up and protect their loved ones and ensure their safety on the roadway and shopping malls this holiday season.

An estimated 42 million Americans will travel by car this Thanksgiving. This high traffic volume increases the likelihood of accidents, according to a press release from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Mississippi Highway Patrol Spokesman Cpl. Benjamin Seibert said they’re expecting more traffic this holiday due to low gas prices.

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“Because of that, we’re increasing patrols, overtime details and setting up our regular checkpoints to look for distracted or intoxicated drivers,” Seibert said.

Drivers and their passengers can take preemptive measures to protect themselves from harm by buckling their seatbelts and avoiding using their cell phones for any reason while driving, Seibert said.

In the last decade, seat belts saved the lives of more than 100,000 people in the United States, according to the press release.

Before hitting the road, motorists should conduct vehicle maintenance to avoid any problems, Seibert said.

“Check your tire pressure. If the pressure is low and it’s raining, it can cause your car to hydroplane,” Seibert said.

He also suggests people make sure they have a spare tire and the tools necessary to change a tire in case of an emergency.

If motorists notice a vehicle driving erratically on the highway, Seibert suggests they call 911 or dial star 47 to reach highway patrol.

“We need people to be our eyes and ears out there,” Seibert said.

Before notifying police, motorists should have the location and description of the vehicle on hand, Seibert said.

Roadways aren’t the only places that will be busy during this time of year. With Black Friday around the corner, shopping malls will be filled with holiday shoppers. Capt. Joe Quave from the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department suggests holiday shoppers protect themselves and their valuables while shopping in crowded stores.

“When it comes to shopping, people need to know what they’re going after and where it’s located to minimize time in a store,” Quave said.

He also suggests people use the buddy system when visiting stores and leave any bags or purses inside the car’s trunk to avoid loss or theft.

In terms of vehicle safety, Quave advices shoppers hide any valuables inside the trunk, park in a well-lit area and keep vehicle doors locked to deter burglars.

With the increase in highway patrol on the roadways, Seibert said their goal is to keep people safe this Thanksgiving.

“That’s why we’re enforcing the law; we’re not here to increase citations, but lower fatalities,” Seibert said.

For more information about road safety, visit