Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that 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, November 23, through Monday, November 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,” Governor 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. on Wednesday, November 23 through 6 a.m. on Monday, November 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.
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. These unmarked vehicles blend in with everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.
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 Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee 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.
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 Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend these simple 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.