City officials warn residents about increased holiday traffic

With thousands of people in the area traveling to visit friends and family for the holiday, city officials are warning people to plan their route ahead of time and check traffic and road conditions before heading out. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — As thousands of people across the county take to the roads to visit friends and family this holiday season, officials are encouraging drivers to make travel plans early.

According to a report released by AAA, approximately 54.3 million Americans are expected to journey 50 miles or more away from their homes this Thanksgiving holiday. This is a 4.8 percent increase from the previous year.

Tyler Haynes, public information officer with the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety, said due to the large numbers of people taking to the road and other means of transportation over the next few days, it can be helpful to plan out the route ahead of time to try to avoid complications.

He said this can include checking traffic and roadway conditions for the route before heading out in case postponing the trip or choosing a different route may be necessary.

Haynes said it is important to anticipate high volume travel times and work extra driving time into one’s schedules to ensure they will not rush and drive unsafely.

He added people should notify family and friends when they are about to leave so someone is aware they are traveling in case they do not arrive at the predetermined location in a timely fashion.

Haynes also said individuals should follow the usual laws of the road, including no drinking and driving, and be responsible.

“As always, it’s encouraged not to use your cell phone,” he said, noting when using a phone for navigation purposes to set it in a holder on the dash in order to keep your eyes on the roadway.

Finally, Haynes said while traffic will not be too busy on Thursday, there are expected to be many vehicles on the road on Wednesday and the weekend following Thanksgiving.

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