FDOT, FHP urge caution to keep Thanksgiving memories happy
No fuss, no mess: How about a Thanksgiving cruise?

Increased FDOT Road Ranger patrols will be ready to help stranded motorists.

To keep this Thanksgiving from becoming a turkey, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) are urging Floridians to approach the biggest traveling holiday with caution.

Millions are expected to hit Florida’s roadways on the way to that plateful of holiday fixings, according to an FDOT and FHP news release. AAA is predicting record-breaking travel crowds, with the majority of the anticipated 55.4 million travelers hitting the road. So, the two state agencies are urging people to make sure their vehicle is ready for the trip, all passengers buckle up and drivers are never impaired, whether it’s from holiday spirits or drowsiness.

Fortunately, there’s help navigating the roadways. 

FDOT Road Rangers will be out in greater force this weekend and can be summoned to help stranded motorists by dialing “FHP” (347), the release says. Also, before hitting the road, travelers can check on travel conditions via live, streaming traffic cameras at FL511.com. That’s the home of FDOT’s Florida travel information system.

“Florida’s goal is to eliminate fatal and serious injury crashes from our state roadways,” Loreen Bobo, FDOT District Five’s safety administrator, said. “Especially during the holiday season, safety is every driver’s responsibility. It begins when you make the decision to drive sober and to buckle up and continues throughout your trip when you make smart decisions on the road. We encourage everyone to do their part to help get everyone home safely.”

FHP Lt. Tara Crescenzi asks Florida’s motorists to exercise caution on and off the road.

“As we gather to celebrate the joys of the holiday season, let’s carry the spirit of safety along with our festive cheer. Remember, whether you’re navigating the roads, securing your home, or enjoying time with loved ones, your safety and the welfare of others start with an individual commitment to responsible actions,” she said. “So, this holiday, as we wrap our gifts with care, let’s also wrap up our travel plans with the bow of vigilance and thoughtfulness, ensuring everyone can unwrap the gift of safe and happy memories to cherish for years to come.”

AAA Newsroom put out a release highlighting the best and worst times to travel according to INRIX, a transportation analytics company. Consider:

— On Wednesday, 2 — 6 p.m. is the worst time to be on the road, and before 11 a.m. is the best.

— On Thursday, 11 a.m. — 3 p.m. is the worst and before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m. is better.

— On Friday, it’s better to avoid driving between noon and 4 p.m. and get going either before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

— On Saturday and Sunday, 3 — 5 p.m. is the most congested time and roads are expected to be clearer before noon.

Aside from ensuring seat belts are buckled and the driver is alert, FLHSMV reminds drivers to make sure tires are inflated, a spare tire is along for the ride, and the vehicle is not overloaded.

And consider that even the traditional holiday meal is said to present a hazard when it comes to staying alert. Large meals can cause drowsiness, which impairs driver safety.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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