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Emergency crews prepare for rush of holiday travelers

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Crews with the Boone County Fire Protection District and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are preparing for people to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Gale Blomenkamp with the Boone County Fire Protection District said the department will not have any extra staff working over the holiday weekend.

"This time of year we anticipate the holiday travel increases. This is an odd year so we're not sure what it's going to look like," he said. "We know there's people traveling, we know there's going to be more people on the roads than normal, but I don't think it's going to meet what it has in years past."

Blomenkamp said most families will probably be traveling together so he does not anticipate more traffic on the roadways even though health experts are advising people to drive instead of taking public transportation.

Kyle Green with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said they had already seen the holiday traffic pick up Wednesday.

"We're already seeing an increase in traffic, started a couple of hours ago. I think people are trying to get a head start on their Thanksgiving day travels, wherever they're heading to," he said.

He said the Highway Patrol does expect more traffic on the roadways because of the decrease in airline travel.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol had extra troopers on duty Wednesday throughout the state in anticipation of more people traveling.

Some people will be driving long distances that they may typically fly. Blomenkamp said it is important to remember driving while tired is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

"If you are driving for, you know, a multiple hour trip, make sure you have another driver with you or somebody else with you. If you get tired pullover and take a nap," he said.

Green said before anyone leaves for the weekend they should put blankets, a phone charge, water and other items in their vehicles in case something were to happen they were to get stranded.

He also said the highway patrol will be on the lookout for several things.

"Put on that seatbelt, it only takes a couple seconds. From there, you know, texting and driving is a problem. Speeding's a problem. Following too close is a problem," he said.

Blomenkamp said he anticipates fewer people out for Thanksgiving, but also Black Friday because of COVID-19.

"With all of that stuff moving online and the hours being spread out over the weekend, I think we'll see a decrease in local traffic when it comes to shopping," he said.

Blomenkamp said between the nice weather, COVID-19 restrictions and few people out he anticipates fewer wrecks.

"Fewer fender benders, fewer wrecks. I think the weather's supposed to be nice and so that's a benefit. Anytime we have good dry weather over the holidays and we've got more vehicles on the road that always makes it safer," he said. "If people are traveling slow down, take your time, get to your destination safely."

Boone / Columbia / News / Transportation / Travel (General)

Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.

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