(Shelby County, TN) The long Thanksgiving holiday is underway for a lot of people, and many are traveling Tennessee's highways and byways to visit family and friends.
But local law enforcement agencies want to make sure folks get to their destinations safely and get back home in one piece.
Flashing blue lights and a "no-nonsense" Tennessee trooper are two things you don't want to see in your rear-view mirror, especially if you're breaking Tennessee's traffic laws this Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant Chris Richardson summed up the goal of a multi-agency effort that started Wednesday.
"Our goal this weekend is to save lives," said Richardson.
The stepped-up traffic enforcement program involves the Highway Patrol, the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, Memphis Police and the Tennessee Governor's Highway Safety Office.
Brenda Jones, with the Highway Safety Office, said officers are saturating Shelby County for one very important reason.
"Shelby County has had 16 more traffic fatalities this year as opposed to this time last year. That's an alarming trend and we want to do something about it," said Brenda Jones.
Drivers can expect to see more officers on roadways, in particular Interstate-40.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is adding 30 more troopers statewide in what it's calling the "I-40 Challenge."
But Sergeant Richardson said the challenge won't stop at Tennessee's state lines.
"That is being done nationwide. There are eight states involved in that. A trooper will be stationed every 20 miles along I-40," said Richardson.
Wednesday and Sunday are considered peak travel times, when drivers are rushing to get to their holiday destination or when they're returning home and might have celebrated a bit too much.
Sergeant Richardson has a stern warning for those drivers.
"You drive impaired this weekend and you will go to jail," he said..
You can save yourself a lot of trouble by not driving impaired, not speeding or driving recklessly, and above all making sure you and everyone in your vehicle is wearing a seat belt or is properly restrained.
"We want to have a safe holiday weekend. We want to make sure that you arrive to your destination safely and return home safely," said Brenda Jones.
The Highway Patrol also warns drivers to be prepared for traffic slowdowns in interstate construction zones.
While some workers may be off Thursday, work on most projects will resume Friday and may even be going on through the weekend.
Always drive defensively and keep an eye out for the other driver.