If you're heading out on the roads this Thanksgiving season, officials are urging patience, planning and caution in hopes of safe travels.
Maryland State Police will have extra troopers on patrol from all 23 barracks, including the Hagerstown barrack, according to the state police press office. Those extra patrols will be funded in part with grants from the Maryland Highway Safety Office.
"Obviously, we also are going to be out looking for those aggressive drivers and DUIS to keep the public safe," said Sgt. Carly Hose, spokesperson for the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
Over 49 million people are expected to travel via car during the Thanksgiving weekend, according to a news release from AAA Mid-Atlantic. That's up 1.7% from last Thanksgiving.
When are the best and worst times to travel this week?
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is expected to be the worst day for travel on the roads because people traveling for the holiday and commuters will be out driving, according to data from INRIX that AAA Mid-Atlantic shared. INRIX provides transportation data and insights.
According to INRIX, the busiest time to travel that Wednesday is 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The best time to travel that day is before 11 a.m.
Other best and worst times to drive during the holiday weekend, according to INRIX, are:
Thanksgiving Day: Worst time is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; best time is before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 24: Worst time is noon to 4 p.m.; best time is before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 25: Worst time is 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; best time is before noon
Sunday, Nov. 26: Worst time is 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; best time is before noon
Planning for trips can help alleviate the stress
Hose suggests drivers try to enjoy the trip, rather than stress out about it.
A good way to do that is to plan ahead, she said.
This includes things to keep the kids occupied, building in rest breaks and giving yourself time to get there, so drivers don't feel the need to drive aggressively, Hose said.
"If you're in such a hurry and a rush, you're stressing yourself out more," Hose said.
A location sharing app can help family members track your location so they aren't calling, texting or expecting you to contact them periodically with your location, she said. Drivers also can tell family they will update them when they make pit stops.
Check your phone or app store for a location sharing app.
Hose said location sharing also can be useful in case of a crash. If family is traveling on rural roads and there is an incident leaving the driver unconscious, another driver might not go by immediately to call 911. But a family member could notice via location sharing that the vehicle hasn't moved in quite some time and be able to provide a location if the driver can't be reached.
Hose also recommends motorists let their families know their travel route and expected stops along the way.
Consequences no one wants to face
Aggressive or impaired driving could result in harm to the vehicle's occupants or to others.
And if no one is hurt, there is still potential damage and that the motorist, if cited, could end up having to show up in court.
While Hose said there isn't a specific Maryland charge for aggressive driving, that type of behavior could include charges such as reckless or negligent driving as well as speeding and traffic citations such as making an unsafe lane change.
Penalties for a driving under the influence, or DUI, conviction, according to state police, are:
For a first offense: Up to a $1,000 fine and one year in jail. Twelve points will be assessed to the offender's driving record and their license might be revoked for up to six months.
For a second offense: A $2,000 fine and up to two years imprisonment (with a mandatory minimum of five days). Twelve points assessed to the offender's license and that license might be revoked for up to one year.
For two convictions within five years: A mandatory period of suspension followed by a minimum required period of participation in the Ignition Interlock Program. Defendant could be required to participate in an alcohol abuse assessment and program.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: 49 million expected to drive this weekend. Here's how to prepare