Everything you need to know as you prepare for Thanksgiving

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

If you are traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday in Pennsylvania, you will have a lot of company. 

The Pennsylvania Turnpike estimates that 3.5 million motorists will be hitting the road through Sunday, with the peak travel days likely on Tuesday and Wednesday.  

“We want all travelers to stay safe this holiday season,” said Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “Holiday activities can increase our levels of stress and fatigue, and this can contribute to distracted driving.” 

Compton said activities that distract from your driving — like talking or texting, or turning your head to talk to passengers — are something to avoid. 

“And most importantly, if you are tired, it is crucial that you ask someone else to drive or take a rest before getting behind the wheel,” Compton said. 

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PennDOT and the turnpike will remove lane restrictions and suspend construction projects wherever possible to keep traffic running smoothly during the holiday weekend. 

Motorists can go to www.511PA.com to monitor road conditions and travel times. 

Regional Traffic Management Centers throughout the commonwealth serve as hubs where PennDOT traffic control specialists monitor a network of 1,000 traffic cameras to help keep roads open and traffic flowing. 

Be sure that your children are properly restrained while traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We can all do our part to avoid crashes by always wearing a seat belt, designating a sober driver and never driving distracted,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “We want everyone to arrive at their holiday destinations safely, but when crashes do happen, PennDOT and first responders will work quickly to help the motorists involved and keep traffic moving.” 

Fair weather: Motorists moving about York County will have some good travel weather.

The National Weather Service in State College is forecasting Thanksgiving Eve Wednesday will have a high temperature near 51 degrees with a northwest wind blowing between 3 and 6 mph. Wednesday’s low will be near 29. 

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Thanksgiving Day, the high will be near 51 with a low of 35. 

Those in need of bus transportation on Thanksgiving Day won’t have that option around York County. Rabbit Transit, which operates bus service in York County, will not provide service on Thursday in observance of the holiday.  

All administrative offices for the transit company will be closed in several counties, including York. All service will resume at its regularly scheduled time on Friday. 

Operation Safe Holiday: During the holiday week, law enforcement officials will be out making sure Pennsylvanians get to their destinations safely. 

Pennsylvania State Police will be monitoring the roadways as well. Operation Safe Holiday runs through Sunday. State police will be making sure travelers are properly restrained “Click It or Ticket” Thanksgiving enforcement mobilization. Besides making sure drivers and passengers are wearing seat belts, troopers will also be checking to see that children are seated properly in child safety seats. 

“Child safety seats reduce crash deaths and injuries, yet troopers cited 1,200 drivers last year for not having children secured. That is unacceptable,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Richard, deputy commissioner of operations for the Pennsylvania State Police. “Parents and caregivers attending our clinics learn how to install and use car seats properly, and our trained child passenger safety technicians will check your seat for recalls, all at no cost to you.” 

Pennsylvania law requires any occupant younger than 18 to buckle up when riding in a vehicle, as well as drivers and front-seat passengers. Children under the age of 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, and children under the age of 4 must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until they are 8 years old. 

DUI enforcement: Law enforcement will also conduct sobriety checkpoints, roving patrols and regular traffic safety patrols beginning Wednesday before Thanksgiving and continuing through New Years to crack down on drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol. 

During that period last year, there were 1,276 crashes involving an impaired driver, resulting in 41 fatalities, according to PennDOT. 

The holiday seat belt and DUI enforcement are funded through PennDOT’s statewide annual distribution from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For more information on PennDOT’s highway safety efforts visit, www.PennDOT.pa.gov/safety