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Police plan to beef up holiday presence on roads

November 23, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Thanksgiving travelers might notice more than increased traffic on Tri-State area highways.

Police say they plan to be out in force as well.

"Whenever traffic is increased ... our workload on the interstate is increased," Maryland State Police Sgt. Stacy Jussila of the Hagerstown barrack said Tuesday.

AAA Mid-Atlantic anticipates more than 672,000 Maryland and 533,200 Pennsylvania motorists will drive 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving, according to written statements.

A number of estimated West Virginia travelers was not available Tuesday.

An estimated 30.1 million people nationwide are anticipated to take to the highways for Thanksgiving, a slight increase in the 30.6 million who drove last year, according to AAA.

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Tri-State area authorities expect holiday traffic to begin picking up at about noon today and remain heavy through Sunday, when travelers are anticipated to return home.

"Depending on what the weather does, that may complicate things," said Trooper Edward Asbury of Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg.

Asbury said state troopers are planning to increase seat belt, child safety seat and other traffic enforcement efforts, such as keeping an eye out for speeders.

Maryland State Police, in cars bearing a round logo stating "The Bee is Back," will be out looking for speeders, aggressive drivers and those driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to a written statement from state police headquarters in Pikesville, Md.

"Troopers will be out in force for one of the three busiest travel holidays of the year," Col. Thomas E. Hutchins, Secretary of Maryland State Police, said in the statement.

In West Virginia, state police are planning Operation CARE: Combined Accident Reduction Effort, a "national effort to crack down on drunk drivers, child restraint violations and everyday traffic violations," according to a written statement.

Amanda Knittle, AAA Mid-Atlantic public affairs specialist, said Tuesday that AAA is encouraging travelers to "just relax, take their time and that the turkey is not going anywhere."

"There will be a lot of people out on the roads, so traffic could be heavy in areas," Knittle said.

The Maryland State Highway Administration is suspending construction work on state roads today through Sunday to accommodate the holiday traffic.

The administration also is encouraging travelers to wear seat belts.

"A joyful family gathering quickly becomes a nightmare if a loved one is killed in a tragic crash," Maryland State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen said in a written statement.

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