Law enforcement to increase patrols to prevent impaired and aggressive driving during holiday period
√ Construction-related lane closures limited from 6 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, through 6 a.m. Monday, Nov. 28, to ease holiday travel
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced the New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies will participate in a special traffic safety initiative to prevent unsafe driving behaviors as the winter holiday season kicks off. The Thanksgiving weekend initiative runs from Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Monday, Nov. 28.
"Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest travel times of the year, and our top priority is to make sure everyone gets to and from their destinations safely," Hochul said. "There is zero tolerance for drunk and impaired drivers who risk the lives of everyone on our roadways. If your Thanksgiving celebrations include alcohol, plan for a safe ride home with a sober driver."
In an effort to ease travel during the busy Thanksgiving weekend, temporary lane closures for road and bridge construction projects on New York state highways will be suspended beginning at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, through 6 a.m. Monday, Nov. 28. Motorists are advised that some work may continue behind permanent concrete barriers for emergency repairs.
The construction suspension aligns with New York state's “Driver's First” initiative, which prioritizes the convenience of motorists to minimize traffic congestion and travel delays due to road and bridge work.
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said, "As motorists drive throughout the state to see their family and friends during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we encourage them to make safe driving practices their top priority. Impaired and aggressive driving, speeding, not using safety restraints and texting while driving all cause scores of senseless injuries and deaths. The State Police is committed to making our roadways safer and, together, we can make sure everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving."
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Chair and Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark J. F. Schroeder said, "We want all those traveling to see family and friends to make it to their destination safely, and that is done by avoiding reckless and impaired driving. Driving impaired puts you, your passengers, and all those on the road in danger. Prevent a tragic event this Thanksgiving by driving sober."
State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "Our roads are especially busy during Thanksgiving and, in order to make travel easier and safer for everyone, we will be suspending construction activities through the holiday weekend, as law enforcement agencies focus their efforts on road safety measures. We all want to get to our family gatherings and other celebrations safely, which is why we need motorists to do their part and exercise good judgment behind the wheel. This means following the rules of the road, avoiding impaired or distracted driving, and not looking at your phone. Being responsible and alert while driving is a good way to show thankfulness for public safety and for everyone's personal safety."
New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, "The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and we urge motorists to drive safely, slow down and move over when they see emergency and maintenance vehicles on the road. When drivers make unsafe decisions behind the wheel, they put lives at risk. We thank New York State Police for partnering with us to keep the thruway one of the safest superhighways in the nation."
The Thruway Authority reminds motorists that nine service areas are closed and under construction as part of the $450 million private investment and modernization project. Fuel services remain open at all locations. To ensure continuity of services to thruway customers during construction, no two consecutive service areas in the same direction of travel will be closed for renovations at the same time. Motorists can view the service areas and plan their stops on the Thruway Authority's website and on the free mobile app.
The State Police will supplement regular patrols statewide with dedicated impaired driving patrols, including drug recognition experts, fixed sobriety checkpoints, underage drinking enforcement, speed enforcement, and the use of concealed identity traffic enforcement patrol vehicles to better locate drivers talking or texting on handheld devices.
Hochul’s team said, “These unmarked vehicles blend in with everyday traffic, but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.”
It continued, “Elevated traffic volumes typically occur during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It's also a time when alcohol consumption is widespread. During the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday period, a total of 12,975 tickets were issued. Troopers arrested 183 drivers for DWI, issued 4,609 speeding tickets and 340 tickets for distracted driving.
“To discourage impaired driving, the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and its partners will participate in a nationwide social media blitz using the hashtag #BoycottBlackoutWednesday.”
The Thanksgiving impaired driving enforcement initiative is funded by the GTSC. It and the New York State STOP-DWI Foundation remind motorists that their "Have a Plan" mobile app is available for Apple, Android and Windows smartphones. The app enables New Yorkers to locate and call a taxi or rideshare service and program a designated driver list. It also provides information on DWI laws and penalties, and provides a way to report a suspected impaired driver.
Hochul’s team said, “Driving drunk or drugged puts not only the driver's life and the lives of others, but could result in arrest, jail time and substantial fines and attorney fees. The average drinking and driving arrest costs up to $10,000.
“Arrested drunk and drugged drivers face the loss of their driver's license, higher insurance rates, and dozens of unanticipated expenses from attorney fees, fines and court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost time at work.”
The New York State Police, the GTSC and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend these tips to prevent impaired driving:
√ Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
√ Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
√ If you're impaired, use a taxi or ride sharing service, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
√ Use your community's sober ride program.
√ If you suspect a driver is drunk or impaired on the road, don't hesitate to contact local law enforcement.
√ If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.