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INDIANAPOLIS — For the holidays, travel is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels. However, with the heavier traffic, along with fewer people using seatbelts and the prevalence of driving while impaired, it makes travel potentially dangerous.

To prepare for this, law enforcement all across Indiana will be participating in the Safe Family Travel campaign, where over the next six weeks there will be more officers out on the road to help prevent unsafe driving. They will remain out in greater numbers even throughout Christmas and New Year’s.

“Whether you’re driving for 10 minutes or 10 hours, we’re asking everyone to plan ahead and make safety their top priority,” said Devon McDonald, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute executive director, in a press release. “Don’t be the reason there’s an empty seat at your table or someone else’s this Thanksgiving.”

Reckless driving incidents remain higher across the nation than it was before the pandemic, with 683 lives lost in crashes in Indiana alone this year. More than 40 percent were not wearing seatbelts.

Last year during the Thanksgiving holiday period, more than 2,300 crashes had taken place in Indiana, with eight of them being fatal.

“If you’re in the driver’s seat, make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up and that especially goes for children,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI traffic safety director. “Seat belts are your best defense against unsafe drivers. We want everyone to arrive alive this Thanksgiving.”

Drivers are reminded that most traffic fatalities can be prevented. They can be prevented by never driving impaired, wearing a seatbelt, following the speed limit and avoiding distractions, such as a cell phone. Individuals are asked to plan a designated driver, a ride service or public transportation home before consuming alcohol.

The weather also poses a challenge to drivers, so it’s encouraged to have an emergency kit in the vehicle with food, water, chargers, sand or cat litter, flares or bright LED lights, a flashlight and blankets. Keep the vehicle at a full tank, with a strong battery and topped fluids.

The Indiana State police encouraged all motorists to be responsible, saying to drive well-rested, avoid “hanging out” in the left lane, follow other vehicles at a safe distance and use turn signals.