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Local officials urge safe travels over holiday weekend

Known as one of the busiest travel days of the year, Thanksgiving draws millions to the roads.

This year’s AAA/IHS Markit Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast estimates 48.7 million people will travel during the holiday period, which they define as Wednesday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 27.

That number is up about a million from last year and the highest projected volume since 2007, and of those nearly 49 million travelers, 43.5 million — or 89.4 percent — are expected on the roads.

To help increase traffic flow, the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) will suspend construction-related lane closures on interstate highways, heavily traveled state routes, roadways near major shopping centers and shopping districts.

The changes will take place 5 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23 until 10 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27.

Despite the construction suspensions, however, the DOT reminds travelers to exercise caution, given construction crews may still work in proximity to highways.

Safety concerns may also require some long-term lane closures to remain in place and in incident management or emergency situations, maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary at any time.

Whether travelling locally or driving cross-country, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Pete Sabella gave some holiday safety tips.

Travel safety

• If traveling on the road this holiday season, make sure your car is in good repair and properly maintained. Prior to traveling, check, or have checked, the vehicle’s oil, transmission, coolant and washer fluids

• Make sure tires are properly inflated and that a vehicle is equipped with a jack and a spare tire that is also properly inflated

• Check the weather conditions for your travel route and destinations

• Ensure wiper blades are in good working order and consider stocking appropriate emergency items such as snow chains, blanket, flashlight, etc.

• When traveling, make sure to have a cell phone that is fully charged, or a car phone charger

• Provide a trusted friend or family member (who won’t be travelling with you) with your itinerary

Shopping safety

• Always be aware of your surroundings and do not display large amounts of cash or credit cards

• Do not leave purses or valuables unattended in shopping carts

• Keep vehicles locked at all times and store any electronics or items of value such as purses, backpacks, gym bags, GPS units, MP3 players, etc., in the trunk or out of plain view

• Plan to finish all shopping prior to loading your trunk with packages. Loading your trunk and then returning to the store for additional purchases can be an invitation for criminals to steal your packages

• During hours of darkness, park and walk in lighted areas as much as possible

Home safety

• Keep garage doors down and locked when unoccupied, even during daylight hours

• Car doors should also be locked, even when parked in the driveway

• When having packages sent to your home, make sure someone will be home to receive them or have them sent to your place of business or somewhere they can be received

• Call 911 immediately should you observe any type of suspicious or criminal activity