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State police to increase patrols during holiday

November 23, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

With state residents gearing up for the year's busiest travel holiday, Maryland State Police are urging motorists to drive with caution and are increasing patrols and enforcement to give them some incentive.

About 525,000 Marylanders are expected to drive or travel by rail or air today through Sunday, according to police.

Extra troopers will be on patrol, watching for aggressive drivers who are speeding, tailgating and making unsafe lane changes, said Hagerstown Baracks Commander Lt. Bruce Smith.

He said police encourage people to wear their seatbelts and buckle children into safety seats.

"When these two easy steps are followed, the chances of being injured in a collision are drastically reduced," said Smith.

To help parents ensure their children's safety, state police will hold a free safety seat check at the Hagerstown Barracks Friday from 10 a.m. to noon.

Smith said motorists can avoid being tied up in traffic on interstates if they plan ahead and leave early.

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"Give yourself extra time to get where you are going. The majority of accidents occur when people are rushing or not paying attention," said Smith.

Washington County streets are expected to be busy with shoppers and Sheriff Charles Mades said drivers should be extra alert.

Deputies will patrol the county's shopping areas, especially on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving which traditionally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Mades said the Halfway area is busy because of the many businesses there and is the site of fender benders each holiday.

AAA Mid-Atlantic projects that 33.8 million Americans will travel this holiday season, which is about the same as last year, despite high gas prices averaging $1.28 per gallon nationwide, said Myra Wieman, a spokeswoman.

She attributes the heavy volume of traffic to the country's good economy.

"A lot of people are working and getting away is a high priority to people," said Wieman.

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