BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — For Thanksgiving, people are already packing their cars to head out of town for the holiday.
In California, the Auto Mobile Club in Bakersfield expects travel will be almost to pre-pandemic levels.
Starting Wednesday night, CHP will be out in full force hoping to prevent any tragedies. Last year, across the state 33 people died on the roadways within CHP jurisdiction, 14 of them did not have seatbelts on, that is why officers are reminding everyone to put their safety first.
“Try to be a defensive driver, we know everyone is trying to get to where they have to get to, we get that, everyone needs to. And the safest way to get to where you got to go to is to have the mindset that even though you might know what you are doing. Assume everyone around you does not know what you are doing,” said Eric Scott, CHP Officer.
Scott explains CHP will be under maximum enforcement, meaning they will have as many patrols as possible out each shift looking for unsafe driving practices like seat belt violations, distracted driving like texting, and signs of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Last year, around this time, CHP made 868 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs across the state.
“That is why we try to do the best we can to be out there. Cause of just the presence alone, sometimes you might slow down a little bit, you know pay a little bit more attention if you do a highway patrol officer driving down the roadway,” said Scott.
He adds Wednesday and Thursday are expected traffic days but often people drive on Friday to go visit other family members and suggest you plan ahead for the whole holiday weekend.
“Just in case there are delays because there are going to be a ton of people out there and one little mishap on the roadway can delay the travel time for everybody and that is really what we want to avoid because that just ruins everybody’s day and their weekend.”
Triple-A said another way to prevent your weekend from being ruined is to make sure you check your car, so it does not break down along the way.
“Over the next five days the auto club anticipates coming to the rescue of 52,000 stranded drivers here in southern California alone. The primary reason why people will call Triple-A is dead batteries, flat tires, and people locking themselves out of their vehicles,” said Doug Shupe, Spokesperson for Auto Club of Southern California.
He adds people should check their tire tread and inflation, if their battery is in good condition, head and taillights working properly, look under the hood for any cracking in the hoses or belts, and make sure your fluid levels are topped off before heading out.
This year Triple-A anticipates 4.4 million people in California will drive out at least 50 miles which is 16 percent more people than last year.
Officer Scott said they anticipate the heaviest traffic will be Sunday as people come back home. That Sunday at midnight is also when the maximum enforcement period will end. He encourages people to plan ahead, to have a designated driver if they are drinking and if you are driving and notice a distracted driver, report it by calling 911 and asking to speak to CHP.