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State, feds urge motorists to plan ahead

Image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Transportation

Holidays offer a break from routine which can be filled with road trips and travel.

On Tuesday, Nov. 20, the state and federal transportation departments called on travelers to consider, for a moment, their own safety.

Travel by air, rail and roadway will all be up by as much as 5 percent each this Thanksgiving holiday, said the U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Nearly 50 million travelers will take to the road and 5.5 million by other means, causing the transportation departments to urge motorists, especially, to plan ahead for safe travels.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation anticipated the highest travel volume in more than 12 years.

"Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times of the year and knowing where travel might be delayed or congested will help make the trip safer and less stressful," said Commissioner Charlie Zelle.

MnDOT asked motorists to slow down, not drive distracted and travel a safe speed for the current conditions, which sometimes means lower than the posted limit, it said.

The federal transportation office offered a series of similar recommendations, including:

• Travel at safe speeds.

• Don't drive distracted.

• Wear seat belts. In 2017, 528 people were killed nationwide between Nov. 22-27. About half of the passenger vehicle occupants who died weren't wearing belts, USDOT said.

• Buckle up children in the correct seats

• Drive sober or designate a sober driver. In 2017, 10,874 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involved drunk drivers.

Said Deputy Administrator Heidi King of the USDOT: "These deaths are 100 percent preventable."

Monitor delays, weather on 511

The Minnesota Department of Transportation's 511 traveler information system website and phone app provide road and driving conditions and includes links to the National Weather Service.

The system is available at 511mn.org or by dialing 511. Motorists can download the free 511 app on their smartphones and other mobile devices.

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