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MHP to up traffic control

The Mississippi Highway Patrol begins its  holiday blitz at 6 p.m. today and will finish Sunday at midnight.

MHP gets its officers out in full force over every major holiday in order to keep a watch on seat belt usage, drunken drivers and respond to crashes on the roadways that become stuffed full of stuffed drivers who have been at events.

Law enforcement also will be watching for reckless driving, speeding and distracted driving. So, go the speed limit, drive cautiously and put down your phone for safety’s sake.

While troopers will be on interstates and major highways, local police officers also will step up their game and have roadblocks and increased traffic patrol. The local entities are able to pay overtime to officers for their blitz thanks to budgeting efforts or grants received at the state and federal level.

During the 2014 Thanksgiving enforcement period by MHP, troopers investigated 179 crashes, including three fatalities, statewide.

The last thing anyone wants is a family member or friend getting in a crash on the way to a gathering, and it would be especially traumatic if it was a fatal crash due to an impaired driver behind the wheel.

We urge drivers to use caution while operating any vehicle or walking near any roadway the next few days. Be attentive to your surroundings. We also urge you to pick up the phone and don’t be afraid to call 911 if you see a driver cruising along and breaking the law, whether it is driving dangerously fast, tailgating, texting or checking email or drinking behind the wheel. That phone call you make could save the life of someone up the road.

Don’t forget in addition to holiday travelers, the deer are out. During the nighttime hours of darkness, we urge you to add an extra layer of caution.

It might be irritating to drive up to a checkpoint and become five or 10 minutes late to your gathering, but if you are not doing anything wrong, it’s well worth the extra time. Because odds are in that one checkpoint, the police have gotten someone drunk off the road, arrested a couple people on outstanding warrants, let someone who had no clue know his or her back headlight was out, found someone who was wanted for a crime or even educated someone about a child safety seat. Those irritating checkpoints keep us all safe.

Thank you to anyone who is working overtime this holiday season to make sure we get everywhere safe.