COLUMBIA — The S.C. Department of Public Safety is reminding motorists to pack some extra patience as traffic will likely be heavy this Thanksgiving holiday. As motorists prepare for travel, troopers are offering these tips: avoid distraction; obey speed limits; and stay rested and alert.
SCDPS is also reminding motorists, especially those unfamiliar with the areas where they are traveling, to check S.C. Department of Transportation’s web site (www.scdot.org/) for road closures since some roads and bridges remain closed due to the flood event in October. Motorists can also monitor real-time traffic from the Highway Patrol at www.scdps.gov/schp/webcad.asp.
The official travel period will be 102 hours, kicking off at 6 p.m. Nov. 25, and continuing until Nov. 29 at midnight. There were eight fatalities on South Carolina roadways during Thanksgiving weekend last year.
All Highway Patrol personnel, including troopers in administrative and support roles, will be patrolling roads during the heavy travel periods.
Fatalities are up statewide, especially those involving vulnerable roadway users, such as motorcyclists and pedestrians. There have been 851 motorists killed this year, compared to 720 at this time last year. That includes 121 motorcyclists, which compares to 83 last year and 103 pedestrians, compared to 93 last year during that same time period.
“The fatality numbers are certainly a cause for concern as we expect heavy travel volumes over the coming days,” said SCDPS Director Leroy Smith. “The good news is that simple, safe driving behaviors, such as buckling up and increasing your following distance, can greatly reduce your chances of a deadly crash.”
Troopers report that some of the primary violations they will be enforcing include: safety belts/child restraint violations, speed, and impaired driving.
SCHP Col. Mike Oliver said that motorists need to allow extra time to navigate through congested traffic from now through Sunday.
“We know that traffic will be especially heavy on Wednesday and Sunday,” Oliver said. “But we also need to keep in mind that we will see an increase in local travel this weekend due to holiday shopping.”
The Highway Patrol and State Transport Police are holding their annual Thanksgiving safety events at rest areas and welcome centers around the state on Wednesday explaining the dangers of holiday travel to motorists and distributing safety literature. For a list of locations, visit www.scdps.gov/comm/nr2015/112315b.html
The State Transport Police reminds motorists to avoid driving in the blind spots of large trucks and to be aware that it takes more distance for heavy trucks to stop, especially in inclement weather.
Motorists are asked to report suspected drunk drivers to local law enforcement or call *HP (*47). SCDPS also urges motorists to move over for emergency vehicles and first responders to give them space to work safely.