Police, Patrol urge care in traffic

Thanksgiving traveling may be heavier this year

As people prepare to hit the roads this holiday season to reunite with friends and family for Thanksgiving, local law enforcement is reminding drivers to take suitable precautions.

Fort Dodge Police Capt. Ryan Gruenberg said there is always plenty of travel during the holiday season, particularly Thanksgiving.

“Also, along with that, comes colder weather,” Gruenberg said. “We encourage people to get their vehicles checked out by a mechanic to make sure their vehicles are in working order.”

He recommends people have an emergency supply kit in their vehicles that includes blankets, shovels and warm clothes, “just in case you get stranded.”

Lt. Mark Miller, of the Iowa State Patrol, said drivers should always be aware of the weather.

“Right now, I don’t see any bad weather in the forecast, but keep an eye on the weather ahead of time,” Miller said.

Weather can change very quickly and unexpectedly, he said.

“Make sure your cars are filled up with gas, check your tires,” he said. “We get a lot of people stranded with tires that are blown as they try to get to their destination. It really puts a damper on the holiday.”

He also stressed that drivers resist the urge to text while driving. Earlier this year, texting while driving became a primary traffic offense in Iowa, which means officers can pull someone over if they see them texting and operating a vehicle.

“It’s not worth getting into an accident over,” Miller said. “If you need to use a GPS, push it in before you get going.”

Most importantly, according to Miller, is that people should wear their seat belts, even if they’re a passenger in the back of the vehicle.

“Seat belts are the top thing you can do,” he said. “You can’t control what other drivers around you do, but you can control what’s going on in your car and make everybody as safe as you can be.”

Thanksgiving is typically the busiest travel holiday of the year, in his experience, Miller said.

“It’s been that way for years,” he said.

Gruenberg said traffic might even be heavier this year.

“From some of the reports I’ve skimmed and seen on the internet, a lot of people are traveling this year, perhaps more than the last few years,” he said. “Obviously, a lot of people are out there, and make sure people are taking extra time necessary to travel from point A to point B, make sure you’re driving in a manner that you feel safe and are looking out for your best interests.”

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