CHP primed for maximum enforcement
Safety: Agency urges caution during holiday weekend.
The California Highway Patrol is giving thanks this holiday season for drivers who play by the rules and help make the stateÂ’s roads a safer place.
Â“Our message is simple,Â” CHP Lt. James Swearingen said. Â“Drive safe, drive sober and buckle up.Â”
According to a news release, the official Thanksgiving holiday driving period begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday and continues through Sunday.
During this time, the CHP will implement a Maximum Enforcement Period, putting every available officer on the road.
Joining the thousands of CHP officers out on the road this Thanksgiving week are millions of Californians, and crowded highways can often lead to frustrating moments at the wheel, CHP reports.
Â“Be prepared for traffic tie-ups, especially on Wednesday before or the Sunday after Thanksgiving,Â” Swearingen said.
In addition to busy roadways, inclement weather is another factor motorists may have to contend with. Rain, fog, wind and snow have been known to create not only frustrating, but hazardous conditions for drivers.
Â“Many crashes are caused by driving too fast for current conditions,Â” Swearingen said.
Last year, during the Thanksgiving maximum enforcement period, 42 people died in 4,768 collisions that occurred in California. More than half of the vehicle occupants killed were not wearing their seat belts, CHP reports.
Another sobering statistic, 1,670 people were arrested by CHP officers for driving under the influence last year over the Thanksgiving holiday, a nearly 10-percent increase from the same time period the previous year.
The Thanksgiving maximum enforcement period is also an Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort holiday.
Operation CARE is a joint program of the nationÂ’s highway patrols that promotes safe driving on interstate highways during holiday periods. CARE highways in California include Interstates 80, 40, 15 Â— San Bernadino to the Nevada border Â— and 5 Â— Bakersfield north to the Oregon line.
Porterville CHP Public Affairs Officer David Gosvener said the Porterville area CHP office responded to and investigated 14 traffic accident during the Thanksgiving period in 2006 Â— the Porterville CHP covers unincorporated areas in southeastern Tulare County.
Seven of those 14 crashes involved injuries.
Â“Although we donÂ’t have a large multi-lane freeway or interstate running through our area, we approach the holiday period with the same goal as the larger CHP areas,Â” Gosvener said. Â“We simply want people to get to their destination safely.Â”
One factor that can greatly increase the number of accidents during this period is heavy fog, CHP reports.
Â“People must realize the safe speed may be substantially less than the speed limit on any given road,Â” Gosvener said. Â“You have to travel at a speed which will allow you to stop for whatever hazard may present itself in front of you, having due regard for the weather conditions.Â”
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