Troopers urge holiday travelers to drive safe

The traffic fatality count has decreased for the month of November, and Oklahoma Highway Patrol officials are urging travelers to help them continue the trend by driving safe during the Thanksgiving holiday.

"This is one of the highest traveled holidays, and we want people to be especially aware of the dangers of increased traffic," said Second Lieutenant Brandon Kopepasah. "It's a holiday and everyone should just take their time reaching their destinations and returning home."

Last year, nine people died during the four-day holiday, an increase of four from the year before.

"Unfortunately, that's about average for the Thanksgiving holiday the last 20 years," said Kopepasah. "But we'd like to see that number decrease, and we're going to do everything possible to accomplish this."

Troopers will participate in the Combined Accident Reduction Effort with law enforcement agencies across the nation.

"In accordance with the CARE program, officers all over America will log their number of contacts and activity during their shifts," said Kopepasah. "Experience tells us that the high visibility of our patrol cars and contact with drivers could potentially save lives and that's our job."

There were eight fatality crashes last year. Two were caused because the driver was speeding, two failed to stop or yield and two died in alcohol-related crashes. One victim was a motorcyclist, one driver swerved to miss an animal and one drove the wrong way on a one-way road.

"Speeding and failure to stop or yield continue to be two of the top three reasons people die on Oklahoma's roads," said Kopepasah. "That tells us that people need to slow down and pay attention. Also, drinking and driving dangers not only yourself but your passengers as well as others on the road."

Kopepasah said troopers will be looking for violators of the safety belt law.

"It's a fact that wearing a safety belt could save your life, and it's the law," said Kopepasah. "There's absolutely no reason why people can't take a few seconds to buckle up, especially when it comes to child passengers. Your effort to do so just might save a life."