(KTXL) — Thanksgiving weekend is normally one of the busiest times on the road as people travel for the holiday.
While AAA expects there to be exponentially fewer cars on the road this year because of the pandemic, the California Highway Patrol has still enacted their Maximum Enforcement Period.
“We want the people to get to their destination safely,” said CHP Officer Ruben Jones. “We want them to go enjoy their family.”
Officer Jones said the agency is stepping up patrols over the Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s more officers on the road out there making enforcement stops, if need be,” he explained. “But more than that, it’s out there getting the patrol car out there. It’s being visibly present because a lot of times that’s a form of enforcement as well.”
As a result of the pandemic, AAA anticipates a 10% drop in travel this year — the largest one-year drop since the Great Recession in 2008.
But less traffic doesn’t necessarily mean safer highways. The CHP says they have seen an increase in people speeding this year.
“With the lighter traffic, it is not an invitation to get to your destination faster,” Jones said.
In 2019, Jones said there were 42 deaths over the Thanksgiving weekend. That’s dozens of families who will never be the same.
“One of the worst things that we have to do as officers, especially during the holiday season, is that notification that their loved one is not ever coming home again. We don’t want to make that notification, especially during the holidays,” he said.
Last year, officers arrested 867 people for driving under the influence.
The CHP says while the pandemic has brought many unforeseen challenges, safety is still their priority.
“Please slow down. Don’t consume any alcohol and or drugs and then get behind the wheel of the vehicle,” Officer Jones said.