State Officials Urge Caution During Busy Thanksgiving Travel Period

TRENTON – As motorists begin to pack up their cars and drive in droves to visit family and friends for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety today urged drivers to exercise good driving habits during their travels.

“We want everyone to enjoy the holiday and arrive at their destination safely, so drivers need to be mindful of their driving habits and look out for those they share the road with,” Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky said.

“The temptation to drink and drive may be there during the holidays, but there is simply no excuse for it. Any time you drink and drive, you are putting yourself, your family and the public at large in great danger,” Poedubicky said.

He also urged motorists to keep their eyes on the road and not drive distracted. He urged drivers not to talk on the phone while driving and said that texting while driving is illegal in New Jersey.

The official Thanksgiving Day holiday period begins tomorrow at 6 p.m. and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. Last year, five people in New Jersey died during this period. Four of those deaths were in traffic crashes involving alcohol or drugs.

Poedubicky said that seat belt use was the most effective way to reduce the risk of injury or death in a crash. Buckling up is the single most effective way for a motor vehicle occupant to avoid death or serious injury in a crash. It reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and moderate or critical injury by 50 percent.

The Division offered the following tips to ensure a safe Thanksgiving holiday for motorists:

  • Always buckle up, every ride, regardless of your seating position in the vehicle. It’s your best defense against an impaired driver.
  • Never consume alcohol and drive, and if you’re going to drink, arrange for a designated driver to take you home
  • Report impaired drivers to law enforcement. In New Jersey, drivers may dial #77 to report a drunk or aggressive driver.
  • If you feel drowsy while driving, pull over and find a safe place to address your condition

In addition, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes reminded motorists to obey New Jersey’s “Move Over” law.

“Drivers need to be aware of Troopers and other service related employees working on the roadways assisting those in need. Please protect those who are serving and protecting you by using caution when approaching vehicles displaying emergency or flashing lights,” said Fuentes.

The “Move Over” law requires motor vehicle operators to reduce their speed and change lanes when approaching authorized vehicles displaying emergency lights. Such vehicles include police, fire and medical services vehicles, and also highway maintenance, tow trucks and official motorist aid vehicles displaying amber emergency lights. Where possible, drivers are required to move over to create an empty lane next to the emergency vehicle. When safely changing lanes is not possible, drivers must slow down below the posted speed limit prior to passing emergency vehicles. Drivers should also be prepared to stop, if necessary.

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