SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THANKSGIVING TRAVEL

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Highway Transportation Partners Come Together to Keep You Safe and on The Go; Issue Best Advice for Stranded Motorists
 
(November 23, 2015) – If over the hills and through the woods to Thanksgiving dinner you go… know before you go.  Unexpected traffic delays or vehicle breakdowns can abruptly put a halt to the much anticipated annual sojourn to the family gathering.
 
The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) and Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) along with Maryland State Police and AAA representatives are preparing for the influx of traffic anticipated Thanksgiving Eve, notoriously referred to as the busiest travel day of the year.  Overlooking I-95 at the Savage rest area in Howard County, experts in highway travel and safety joined together to impart valuable advice that begins with: plan carefully and know your options if you find yourself stranded on the roadway. 
 
“Invest time in making sure your trip goes smoothly– carefully choose your route, have a back up plan, and know before you go with the free 511 travel information service,” said Deputy State Highway Administrator and Chief of Operations Dave Coyne.  “By doing some time-saving research to learn about major incidents, delays, estimated travel times and weather conditions before getting behind the wheel, drivers can save time, fuel costs and frustration.”
 
The 511 free travel service can be called or accessed by www.md511.org and provides estimated travel times, incident information, travel delays, weather updates and other valuable information for those on the road.  SHA’s CHART (Coordinated Highways Action Response Team) program closely coordinates and shares traffic information and their patrols respond to incidents and aid disabled drivers, which enhances everyone’s safety by preventing unexpected delays and reducing the possibility of secondary crashes.  To further ease traffic delays, non-emergency roadwork is not permitted on SHA-maintained roadways between Wednesday, November 25 at 9 a.m. and Monday morning, November 30.  
 
“We expect more than 2.7 million motorists this week on Maryland’s toll highways, bridges and tunnels, with more than half of those motorists on the I-95 corridor alone,” said Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Executive Director Milt Chaffee.  “Our focus this week is to keep traffic moving as safely and efficiently as possible.”  MDTA also deploys patrols known as Vehicle Recovery Technicians, who assist stranded motorists.  VRTs are especially helpful for disabled vehicles on bridges and tunnels which do not have standard shoulder areas.
 
With several recent tragic traffic crashes involving stranded motorists, Maryland State Police urges drivers to make sure vehicles are in good working order.  Between 2010 and 2014, 32 people were killed while standing outside vehicles along interstates, many of them attending to mechanical issues on the shoulder.
 
“We want Maryland travelers to make their safety a priority this holiday and everyday,” said Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Satchell, Maryland State Police. “Unexpected breakdowns do occur and never at a convenient time or location. While what to do will vary with each case, we recommend that drivers carry emergency kits with reflectors and a light source, and to call for assistance as soon as possible."
 
For tips on managing breakdowns, attached is a list of options if stranded.
 
Inattentive and drowsy drivers present one of the largest threats on the road – especially for vulnerable disabled motorists.  With estimates of increased travelers on Maryland roads this holiday, every driver’s most alert and careful driving will be needed while navigating holiday  traffic.
 
“AAA projects nearly one million Marylanders will carve out time to visit friends and family this Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “With over 90 percent of these holiday travelers expected to take to the roads, we remind motorists to pack their patience and build in extra time to reach their destination safely.”   
 
General tips:
 
• Drivers with mobile phones can dial #77 (on Maryland interstates to reach the nearest State Police barrack) or 911 to report suspected aggressive or drunk drivers, disabled motorists and other travel emergencies.
• Check your vehicle’s lights, fluids, tires, battery and windshield wipers for proper operation. Carry an emergency roadside kit.
• Drive focused – Maryland law prohibits hand-held cell phone use and texting while driving.
• Buckle up!  All seats, all passengers regardless of age, even in the backseat. 
• Travel during off peak hours and allow extra time for unexpected delays.
• Slow down and pay attention, avoiding distractions such as cell-phone use, changing CDs and eating.  Observe all posted speed limits.
• Never drink and drive!  Designate a sober driver. 
• Move over in the next lane or slow down when passing emergency responders on the shoulder.  It is Maryland law.
• In the unfortunate case that you are involved in a minor crash, please safely move your vehicle from the travel lanes – it’s Maryland’s law.
• The National Click it or Ticket campaign will be underway; police will be enforcing seat belt laws.
• Place children in the proper child safety seats.

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