Millions hit the road for holiday weekend, police ramp up patrol - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Millions hit the road for holiday weekend, police ramp up patrols

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Traffic was backing up on I-84 in Cheshire late Wednesday afternoon (CT DOT) Traffic was backing up on I-84 in Cheshire late Wednesday afternoon (CT DOT)
WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) -

Millions of people across the country are expected to hit the road, board a plane, or get on a train to enjoy the long Thanksgiving weekend. 

The Thanksgiving weekend is always one of the busiest times of the year to travel. As more and more people hit the road, police will be ramping up their efforts to ensure people are obeying the law and celebrating responsibly. 

On Wednesday evening, just before 5 p.m., traffic was backing up on the major highways in Hartford, Waterbury and along the shoreline, as people headed out for the long holiday weekend.

AAA officials are projecting 2.5 million New Englanders to travel to their Thanksgiving Day destinations with a majority of those people driving. 

AAA added the gas prices are not the driving force this year. People either feel as though they have more money in their pockets and they’re OK with getting away. 

"We want to remind people to plan ahead for a designated driver or to use one of the car share services such as Uber or Lyft to ensure that everyone does make it home safely for the holiday,” Amy Parmenter, who is the AAA spokesperson, said.

The biggest increase this year is in air travel up 5.5 percent over last year’s number in New England.

“One reason for that is that airfares are down. They are down about 23% from where they were last year,” Parmenter said.

In recent years, AAA said people have started referring to the night before Thanksgiving as Blackout Wednesday or Drinksgiving.

State and local police in Connecticut said they will have an increased presence. DUI enforcement and click it or ticket are in effect. There will be extra patrols out there to encourage folks to drive safely. 

“Beginning Wednesday, we’re going to start additional patrols in addition to our patrols out on the roadway,” Connecticut State Police Sgt. Eric Haglund said. “We’ll be focusing on traffic enforcement, aggressive drivers, impaired operators.”

Police, firefighters, paramedics will be out helping anyone in need, so if anyone sees them on the side of the roadway give them some space and move over.

If you’re traveling by plane, train or car, AAA said it’s important you leave yourself extra time to get to where you need to go. It’s also important you arrive to the train station or airport early. 

Many more travelers are hitting the road and state police say drivers won't be able to avoid traffic, so just be patient and expect your trip to last a little longer than normal.

“As you're traveling give yourself some extra time give yourself some extra distance in between cars be mindful that there will be some congestion that there will be some congestion,” Haglund said.

Thanksgiving Eve is one of the most treacherous nights of the year to be out on the road, but state troopers were out in full force trying to make dangerous drivers pay a heavy price for their reckless decisions.

DWIs and distracted driving tickets skyrocket on the night before Thanksgiving. It's frustrating, but protecting holiday travelers is State Trooper Ashley Harkins top priority.

"If I can be out here helping other people get out here safely and let them get to their families then I know I've done something that can actually help other people," Harkins said on Wednesday night.

Good news for travelers is the weather is expected to hold up for the weekend.

Thursday looks great and will feature mostly sunny skies, with a light breeze.

Temperatures will be in the low and middle 40s.

It'll get colder as the night goes on, with temperatures dropping into the high 20s, low 30s.

Friday will be mostly sunny with highs in the mid to upper 40s.

Saturday will feature a mix of sun and clouds, with temperatures rising in the 50s.

Sunday will be blustery and chilly with a mix of sun and clouds.

For weather updates on smartphones and tablets, head here or text "WFSB" to 23765 to download the Channel 3 app.

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