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ON THE ROAD AGAIN: With more than 48 million drivers on the road, experts urge caution this weekend

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With families across the country celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, the roads are sure to be busy with people driving home to see relatives.

AAA projects that 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of one million travelers compared with last year. This represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 27.

This year’s increase in Thanksgiving travel is spurred by improvements in the economy during the second half of the year, including rising wages, increased consumer spending and overall strength in consumer confidence. And despite recent incremental increases in the national average price of gasoline, AAA estimates U.S. drivers have saved more than $28 billion so far at the pumps this year compared to the same period last year.

“One million more Americans than last year will carve out time to visit with friends and family this Thanksgiving,” AAA President and CEO Marshall Doney said. “Most will travel on the tried and true holiday road trip, thanks to gas prices that are holding at close to $2 per gallon. Others will fly, take the bus or set off on a cruise to celebrate with their loved ones.”

Troy Police Chief Randall Barr is reminding residents to take extra precautions on the road for the holidays.

“Thanksgiving is obviously one of the biggest travel days of the year and there will be a lot of traffic on the road,” Barr said. “We certainly encourage everyone to be prepared when they travel in case of a delay.

“Plan your routes and be mindful of construction. Leave early and give yourself plenty of time if you run into construction or a wreck that could delay or even alter your route.”

Barr said that the department will have some increased presence over the holiday window to help keep traffic stay at a safe, steady pace and to encourage folks to wear seatbelts and make sure children are restrained properly.

“We want people to be safe and get to their destination safely,” Barr said.

The Alabama Department of Transportation is suspending temporary lane closures from noon today until midnight on Sunday and limiting roadwork in an effort to make travels safer.

And in Alabama, Secretary of Law Enforcement Stan Stabler said Alabama State Troopers investigated 10 traffic fatalities during the five-day Thanksgiving weekend of 2015.

“What should have been a festive occasion was marred by tragedy on Alabama’s roadways,” he said. “Please, motorists, support the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and our law enforcement partners from across the state to ensure everyone buckles up, obeys speed limits and avoids driving under the influence or while distracted. We want everyone to be safe and enjoy the long weekend.”

During the holiday travel weekend all of ALEA’s available Troopers will work additional shifts to create a highly visible enforcement presence thanks to grant funding from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).  In addition, Troopers will work hand in hand with local law enforcement agencies to bolster patrol/enforcement activities and to assist stranded motorists.  (Call *HP or 911 on your cell phone for assistance while traveling through Alabama.)