TDOT, law enforcement prepare for holiday travelers

JACKSON, Tenn. — According to AAA, more Americans are choosing not to travel this holiday weekend, as the organization expects a 10 percent drop in travelers from this time last year.

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But that still leaves more than 50 million people who are throwing their suitcases in their cars and heading out.

“We’ve been watching the trends of traffic since March. They have declined, but they have started to come back up a little bit with school and work being back in session,” Tennessee Department of Transportation community relations officer Nichole Lawrence said.

Lawrence says TDOT will halt all temporary lane closures for the Thanksgiving holiday, starting at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 25 and continuing through 6 a.m. Monday, Nov. 30.

She also urges drivers to plan their route in advance, with the help of some great tools.

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“Look at your route before you leave, by looking at our Smartway map on our webpage, or you can call 511 as well,” Lawrence said.

That doesn’t mean the roads are all clear, though. Permanent lane closures will remain in place, so don’t try to speed your way to some Thanksgiving food.

“Even though construction will be halted during this holiday weekend, we will still be enforcing the speed zones through the construction zones,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Jena Eubanks said.

In fact, the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be visible along interstates and highways.

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“We do tend to see a spike in traffic enforcement, pulling people over, during the holiday season because people are anxious to get to where they are going, and we are just here to make sure they have a safe holiday,” Sgt. Eubanks said.

No matter where you’re heading, it’s more important than ever to keep others around you safe.

As a reminder if you do choose to travel, health officials are encouraging you to take preventative steps while flying, driving, and visiting with family and friends due to COVID-19.

Those steps include:

  • wearing your mask on flights or when you are inside buildings and are unable to social distance.
  • washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • maintaining social distancing guidelines.

For a full list of travel precautions, click here.

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