The Thanksgiving holiday is always one of the busiest on our nation's highways, and this year's travel plans by automobile appear to be bigger than ever, thanks in large part to the qualms many of us still have about air travel in the wake of September's terrorist attacks.
AAA, the national automobile association, expects a record 87 percent of those going on a holiday trip of 50 miles or more will choose to drive this year. But while the concerns about flying are understandable, AAA says each mile of driving is still 37 times riskier than each mile of flying.
For the fifth year, police and safety groups are joining together to make the motoring public more aware of the increased dangers of holiday traffic. In particular, they are emphasizing enforcement of drunken-driving and seat-belt laws.
Cape Girardeau and other communities have received grants to beef up patrols during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, when the National Safety Council predicts 532 people will die in automobile accidents, up from 497 last year.
There will be more checkpoints for seat-belt compliance. The checkpoints also will pay particular attention to proper safety for children.
The aim of the holiday emphasis on safe driving is twofold: One goal is to save lives, while the other is to educate motorists. According to studies, many drivers are more willing to risk their own lives and the lives of passengers in the vehicles than they are willing to risk getting a traffic ticket.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 7,700 of the more than 40,000 people who die each year in U.S. traffic accidents would still be alive if they had worn a seat belt.
Those numbers speak volumes. Please drive safely, and obey the law.