Local police increase patrols around holidays

This Thanksgiving, travel is expected to rebound to nearly pre-pandemic levels.

According to AAA, 48.3 million people will be taking to the roads for the holiday, an 8% increase from last year. Heavier traffic, combined with declining seat belt use and the prevalence of impaired driving, makes this travel period particularly dangerous for road users, according to a Johnson County Law Enforcement Coalition news release.

The coalition is joining hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the state for the Safe Family Travel campaign. Over the next six weeks, officers will be out in greater numbers to discourage impaired driving and ensure drivers and passengers are properly buckled, according to the news release.

The high-visibility patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and will concentrate around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, the news release said.

In Indiana and nationwide, reckless driving incidents remain higher than during pre-pandemic times. As of early October, 683 people have been killed in crashes statewide, which is an 8% increase from the same time in 2019 and on pace with 2020 – one of the deadliest years in the past decade, according to the news release.

Of the total number of vehicle occupants killed in crashes so far this year, more than 40% were not wearing seat belts. Moreover, seat belt use in Indiana declined for the first time in five years, the news release said.

Most traffic fatalities can be prevented by taking some simple precautions: never drive impaired, always wear a seat belt, follow posted speed limits and avoid distractions, law enforcement officials say.

Before consuming alcohol, plan a sober ride home, such as a designated driver or using a ride service or public transportation. Motorists are encouraged to call 911 if they encounter an impaired or unsafe driver on the road.