Students driving home for Thanksgiving weekend should take extra care to follow the rules of the road as the California Highway Patrol (CHP) steps up its enforcement to account for increased holiday traffic.
The CHP will deploy approximately 80 percent of its officers to patrol the state’s highway system between 6 tonight and midnight this Sunday. Santa Barbara CHP spokesman Donald Clotworthy said officers will look for people who are violating traffic and vehicle ordinances by speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or not wearing seatbelts, and will help people who need directions or other assistance.
“This weekend is a maximum enforcement period, which basically means that statewide, our goal is to deploy the maximum number of officers that we possibly can,” Clotworthy said. “[Thanksgiving] is one of the heaviest traveled weekends of the year. It’s important that we’re out there in force to make sure that people get to and from their destination safely.”
Last year, the Santa Barbara area experienced no fatal accidents during Thanksgiving weekend. Clotworthy said he hopes this weekend will be just as safe, but said he expects the CHP to write many tickets.
“If we didn’t have to write tickets, fine, because we want to be out there providing services to motorists,” Clotworthy said. “But part of our job is to enforce the law. This is the time period that we typically see more tickets being written.”
Clotworthy said motorists can help make their drives home safer by checking their car for mechanical problems before departing, avoiding talking on cell phones or eating while driving and giving themselves enough time to reach their destination without speeding.
“Our number one concern is always those who drive too fast,” Clotworthy said. “Another concern also is impatient motorists. Not giving yourself enough time to get to your destination may put you in the mindset where you think you can get there faster if you drive faster, which statistically is not true.”
While CHP officers will do their best to prevent accidents and traffic jams, Clotworthy said, drivers should still expect to see heavy traffic and should be patient when driving.
“Have patience, because obviously with the increase in traffic there’s going to be the opportunity for people to break down or have accidents and that’s why the CHP is going to be out there to minimize those incidents,” Clotworthy said. “The other motorists out there expect that you will be as responsible a motorist as they are. We have to take care of each other as we drive.”
Clotworthy said drivers who see anything that seems dangerous on the road should contact the CHP by calling 9-1-1.