LAGUNA NIGUEL, CA — The California Highway Patrol confirmed that not unlike Thanksgivings past, officers will be out in force this holiday on roadways in Orange County and throughout the Golden State.
To encourage safe travel, CHP's Thanksgiving Maximum Enforcement Period begins at 6:01 p.m. Wednesday and continues through the weekend until 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
Traffic is expected to be a bit lighter this year because of the coronavirus pandemic but that is not an invitation, the CHP said, for drivers to speed to their destination. The rules of the road still apply, and motorists should avoid driving tired, impaired or distracted, according to the CHP.
“This year has presented us with many unforeseen challenges, but safety is still our priority,” CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said. “If you choose to travel this Thanksgiving weekend, our goal is to help motorists arrive at their destination without incident.”
During the statewide maximum enforcement period — or MEP — CHP officers will actively look for unsafe driving practices and for motorists in need of help.
During the 2019 Thanksgiving MEP, 42 people died on California roadways. Of the 27 who died within CHP jurisdiction, 11 were not wearing seat belts. Last Thanksgiving, the CHP also arrested 867 drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Those who must be on the road, remember to buckle up,” the CHP said. “Proper seat belt use is the single most effective way to save a life in the event of a crash. When you are traveling for the holiday, or any time of the year, make sure everyone in the vehicle is safely secured before even starting the car, and that includes children being in the correct child safety seats.”
CHP reminded motorists of the state's coronavirus-related travel advisory, which encourages people to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to or arriving in California from another state or country.
Regarding enforcement of the 10 p.m. nightly curfew implemented Nov. 21 by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in 41 California counties —including Orange County— CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray issued the following statement:
“The health and safety of our employees and the public we serve is our highest priority. In an effort to preserve public health and safety of all Californians and stop the surge of COVID-19 cases, the Governor has instituted a limited stay at home order from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. with the goal that people will self-regulate their behavior, protect themselves, and go about only the ‘essential’ activities during those hours.
“The mission of the CHP is unchanged. CHP officers will continue to patrol throughout California and use their sound professional judgment to conduct enforcement stops for violations of the law based upon probable cause. The CHP does not make arrests based on race, ethnicity, gender, political affiliation, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or for any reason other than violations of the law based on probable cause. As always, CHP officers will have the discretion to take appropriate action when a violation is observed.”