The Edmond Sun

November 21, 2012

Officials offer Thanksgiving travel tips


Special to The Sun

EDMOND — In 2011, the Thanksgiving holiday period began at 6 p.m. Nov. 23 and ended Nov. 27. During this time six people died in four fatal crashes on Oklahoma roadways, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. One of the six fatalities occurred in an alcohol–related crash. Five of those fatalities occurred in the Troop C area which consists of seven counties in the Muskogee region.

As a result of last year’s fatalities and crashes, Capt. Damon Tucker, commander of OHP Troop C, says there will be extra manpower in the Troop C area and more specifically the I-40 corridor.

“If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement or dial *55 from any cell phone to alert the Oklahoma Highway Patrol,” Tucker said. “Our goal is to keep Oklahomans safe on the roads this holiday season.”

There comes a time when discretion is the better part of valor. When that time comes for those consuming alcoholic beverages over the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA Oklahoma hopes they’ll call the auto club for a free ride home for themselves and their vehicle.

“If you’ve been drinking, why take a chance and drive? We are offering a safe, free alternative,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “We know alcohol is going to be consumed at holiday parties, whether at a friend or relative’s house or while out on the town. When the party’s over, we just want to make sure the roads are as safe as possible for everybody.”

If you feel unsafe behind the wheel after drinking, AAA will give you and up to one more person — plus your vehicle — a free ride home within a 15-mile radius of point of pick up in metropolitan Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton, Bartlesville, Enid, Muskogee, Shawnee and Tahlequah. Tipsy Tow services are being offered from 6 p.m. Wednesday until 2 a.m. Monday.

“The number to call is 1-800-222-4357 — which translates to 1-800-AAA-HELP,” Mai said. “Write this number down and keep it in your car’s glove box. When you call, tell the AAA operator, ‘I need a Tipsy Tow,’ and a truck will be on its way.”

You do not need to be a member of AAA to call for a Tipsy Tow.

A not-for-profit organization, AAA Oklahoma serves its 364,600 members across Oklahoma with emergency help on the road, auto travel assistance and a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial assistance.

Meanwhile, many people will travel to visit loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday and the American Red Cross has travel tips holiday travelers can follow to arrive safely at their destination.

“Whether folks travel by plane, train or they take to the highway, there are things they can do to have a safer trip,” said Ken Garcia, Central and Western Oklahoma regional spokesman. “Thanksgiving is one of the heaviest travel times of the year and we want people to be safe and enjoy their trip.”



ON THE ROAD

Most holiday travelers get to where they are going by car. To arrive safely, the Red Cross recommends these safety steps for travelers who will drive to visit their loved ones this Thanksgiving:

• Make sure the vehicle is in good working order.

• Start out with a full tank of gas, check the tire air pressure and make sure the windshield fluid is full.

• Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired. Designate a driver who won’t drink.

• Be well rested and alert.

• Use caution in work zones.

• Give one’s full attention to the road.  Avoid distractions such as cell phones.

• Observe speed limits — driving too fast or too slow can increase the chance of being in a collision.

• Make frequent stops.  During long trips, rotate drivers. If the driver is tired, stop and get some rest.

• Be respectful of other motorists and follow the rules of the road.

• Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.

• Clean the vehicle’s headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows.

• Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or if using windshield wipers due to inclement weather.

• Don’t overdrive the headlights.

• If car trouble develops, pull off the road as far as possible.

It’s also recommended to keep an emergency preparedness kit in the vehicle. Useful items include water, snacks, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra cash and blankets. Red Cross Emergency Preparedness kits are available online at the REd Cross Store at www.redcrossstore.org.



TRAINS, PLANES, BUSES

For people traveling by air, bus or train, the Red Cross reminds them that the seasonal flu can occur as early as October. If people have come in contact with someone who is sick, perhaps the trip should be postponed as they may be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.

Other safety tips to avoid the flu while traveling include the following:

• Remember that everything someone touches has to be touched by someone else — luggage handlers, etc. Handle one’s own belongings as much as possible.  Wash hands often with soap and water.

• Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes and use them to wash hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.

• Bring one’s own pillows and blankets — they can act as a shield against the seat itself.

• If someone has to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or sleeve.

• Avoid touching the face or eyes.



FOR MORE information on how to remain safe while traveling this Thanksgiving, visit the Red Cross web site at www.redcross.org.