Woodward, Okla. —
Oklahoma Highway Patrol and transportation officials remind motorists to use caution while traveling state roads this Thanksgiving holiday.
"The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is typically the biggest holiday travel day of the year in Oklahoma," said Trooper Steve Nightengale, OHP's liasion with the Oklahoma Highway Traffic Safety Office.
With so many people on the road, Nightengale said it is important for drivers to do what they can to ensure they get to their holiday destination and then return home safely.
OHP troopers will also be doing what they can to keep the roads safe for all travelers.
"As usual, we'll be out there looking for intoxicated drivers, distracted drivers who are texting or on cell phones, speeders and those not wearing safety belts," Nightengale said.
DRINKERS - STAY PUT OR GET A DESIGNATED DRIVER
OHP said one of the most important things that people can do to keep the roads safe is to avoid drinking and driving.
"So stay where you are, spend the night, or get a designated driver if you've been drinking." Nightengale said. "Don't cause a heartbreak for yourself or your family and friends by getting seriously injured or killed, anytime, but especially when it's supposed to be a happy holiday season."
The trooper reported that in 2011, 6 persons died on the highways during the Thanksgiving holiday. One of those fatal wrecks involved alcohol use.
Another 248 persons were hurt in 170 Thanksgiving holiday crashes in 2011, with 39 of the injuries stemming from 26 alcohol-related collisions, Nightengale said.
WATCH OUT FOR ROAD WORK AHEAD
Another way to stay safe during holiday travel is to be aware of road construction.
For drivers staying close to Northwest Oklahoma this Thanksgiving, there is only one road closure within Oklahoma Department of Transportation's (ODOT) District 6.
Scott Armstrong, the district's construction engineer, said the closure is along State Highway 58 in Major County. A section of the highway between Okeene on its south end and Canton to the north is shut down for bridge replacement.
"The road is only open for local traffic," Armstrong said. "No through traffic is being allowed."
Instead traffic is being detoured along State Highways 3 and 51.
He said the work is hoped to be finished by January, but it may take until February to complete.
Several other ongoing projects involve speed reductions to protect work crews. The speed zones typically are about a quarter-mile long, and he wasn't sure when the work would be complete for them.
One area has the speed limit dropping from 65 mph to 45 mph for a bridge project on U.S. Highway 54 just west of Jet in Woods County.
"Then, there are 2 jobs on U.S. Highway 64, near Cora in Woods County," Armstrong said. "One is east of State Highway 14 and the other is west of it."
The speed limit in those 2 areas drops from 65 mph to 60 mph, he noted.
Closer to Woodward, the bridge replacement project over Persimmon Creek, on U.S. Highways 183/270/State 3 southeast of Woodward, has been finished for several months and all 4 lanes are open, Armstrong said.
"There's no road work going on right now in the Panhandle (itself)," he added.
AROUND THE STATE
As drivers are heading across the state there are a few areas of construction.
• !-35 is narrowed to one lane at US 64 in Perry
• On I-35 near Guthrie the speed limit ls reduced to 60 miles per hour south of Guthrei at the Seward Road interchange.
• Significant work is being done on I-244 through Tulsa so expect delays or find alternate routes if possible.