Highways Crowded with Holiday Travelers Dangerous: MO Highway Patrol Adds Troopers
The highway patrol says low gas prices are expected to result in record travel this holiday. That can make roads more dangerous.
In 2015, the patrol says thirteen people were killed and six hundred twenty-seven injured between Wednesday and Sunday of the holiday weekend.
Playing it safe, the Scott family stops in at the Missouri welcome center. A break from their fifteen hour journey from Fort Sill, Oklahoma to Kentucky. Their unique family gathering an example of why roads are busy for the holiday.
Joseph Scott explained, “My brother has a new house. He’s invited the whole family from across the country to have Thanksgiving at his place. My folks are coming from New York state, step brother from Maine, cousins from Texas are coming up, an Aunt from Illinois and we’re all converging on Kentucky for the holidays.”
The Scotts say they would drive no matter what, but low gas prices are still good news. Scott said, “It’s nice. Obviously a great benefit to have to pay less than two bucks a gallon.”
Kristin Milligan who stopped to gas up in Joplin on her way to Texas said of gas prices, “I think it’s awesome, because I live in Rosebud, Missouri. It’s way more expensive up there than down here.”
John Walker traveling to St. Louis from Oklahoma said while pumping gas, “Every little bit helps.”
Still congested highways are one part of a dangerous, even deadly, combination. “In 2015, on the Thanksgiving travel period”, said Sgt. John Lueckenhoff with the Missouri Highway Patrol “someone was either injured or killed in Missouri every 9.6 minutes.”
The other part of the problem is distracted drivers.
Sgt. Lueckenhoff added, “It’s the cellphones. It’s the radio. It’s the other occupants in the car.”
With more people on the highways, local patrol troop D is stationing highway patrol troopers every twenty miles on interstate 44 and highway 60 Wednesday and Sunday. It’s called Twenty Mile Troopers.
Traveler Billy Ray who’s going from Cedar Hill, Texas to Cedar Rapids, Iowa said, “I think it’s great. It’ll make the roads even safer probably. Keep people more diligent to watch what they’re doing. Keep their speeds um safe for all drivers.”
The patrol says make sure your vehicle is travel ready so you don’t break down and in rain, fog, snow or mist any time of day use headlights. Sgt. Lueckenhoff said, “It allows you to see better, but it also allows other motorists to see you.”
Long distance drivers stopping at the welcome center said they try to play it safe.
Michael Gunn on his way from Dallas, Texas to St. Louis said, “Buckle up, drive slow, make sure I give up the passing lane at all times, keep my distance from the next car. It’s all about being considerate on the road.”
And they recommend you take frequent breaks. Stop in for a cup of coffee so you don’t drive feeling drowsy.
Sgt. Lueckenhoff urged drowsy drivers to pull completely off the interstate and find a parking lot for a nap. He said, “Get the rest. If you fall asleep behind the wheel, you’re not in control of that vehicle in any form or fashion so that’s a critical error that doesn’t need to be made.”
Do the same with car trouble if possible or pull far off the right side of the highway, then call star 55 and the closest trooper will be dispatched to help.