More travelers expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving 2016 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

More travelers expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving 2016

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

If you're planning to hit the road this week for Thanksgiving this year, you're not alone. 

According to AAA, 48.7 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the Thanksgiving travel period, which is considered Wednesday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Nov. 27. 

Of that 48.7 million, 43 million (89%) are driving. That's one million more drivers than last year. In addition, 7.6% are flying, and 3.1% are traveling some other way. 

It's why the Tennessee Highway Patrol is urging everyone stay safe with their fourth annual "I-40 Challenge Drive to Zero Fatalities" campaign.

THP will assign troopers to patrol roads for 12 hours every 20 miles along I-40, but also I-24 and I-75 to help decrease holiday fatalities. THP Lt. John Harmon said THP cancelled all personal leave this week to for troopers to do so. 

During last year's 120-hour holiday period, there were eight people killed during eight separate crashes in Tennessee, up one from the previous year. Four of those crashes involved an alcohol-impaired driver, and four were unrestrained, according to THP. 

"Every trooper in the state of Tennessee's goal at the end of the day in the community that he lives in; his goal at the end of the day is for one to lose their life," Harmon, said. "With the high volume of traffic and the distractions that we have we just need to be paying attention to driving."

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is also promoting the I-40 Challenge by suspending lane closures beginning at Noon on Wednesday, Nov. 23 through 6 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28. TDOT's regional Help Trucks will also be working throughout the holiday weekend to assist with incidents that may occur along the interstates, according to TDOT's commissioner.

The campaign starts Wednesday Nov. 23, 2016 from 10 AM to 10 PM and Sunday Nov. 27, 2016 from 11 AM to 11 PM.

Troopers will also be set up at all three East TN welcome centers helping with directions and safety tips for those behind the wheel.

To see last year's Thanksgiving Day period in Tennessee and the nationwide statistical report, click here

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