Oklahoma Highway Patrol encourages safe holiday travel

Sierra Rains
Oklahoma Highway Patrol

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is expecting to see a large number of people traveling to visit their families for the holidays. With the possibility of increased traffic, troopers are urging travelers to drive as safely as they can.

“With everybody being so socially distanced from their families I figure we’re going to have a pretty regular amount of travel, if not increased because everybody’s missed their families for most of the year,” said OHP Trooper Matt White. 

Anytime there is increased travel, there is an increased risk, White said. According to the National Safety Council, traveling by car during the holidays has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. Last year, more than 100 Americans lost their lives while traveling on Christmas Day.

In Oklahoma, there was a total of 110 crashes over the 2019 holiday reporting period between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. Five of those crashes were fatal, resulting in the death of eight persons, and two of those crashes were alcohol or drug related. 

“We never want to see something like that happen. That’s never something that we like working,” White said, regarding fatality collisions. “It’s imperative that people slow down and pay attention to what they’re doing, especially with higher rates of traffic.” 

The highest number of crashes over the holiday reporting period for Christmas 2019 occurred in the evening hours on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, according to OHSO. 

White said individuals who are traveling this holiday season should plan ahead and take their time. “You don’t get there if you don’t make,” White said. Those attending holiday gatherings should also remember to find another way to get home safely if they are consuming alcohol. 

As of Tuesday, the weather conditions appear to be clear for travel. “Based off the weather we’re hoping that it’s pretty clear and that we’re not dealing with a bunch of ice and snow, but if that happens people just need to slow down, pay attention to the roadways and drive safe,” White said. 

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will also have extra troopers out on the road to ensure everyone is staying safe. “You’re at a higher risk of being in a crash just with that much more traffic,” White said. “Do yourself a favor and slow down and pay attention, and just drive as safe as you possibly can.”