HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - More than 46 million people heading home for the holiday and the impact will be on our roads. For highway patrol, safety is the number one priority.
Not only is today the busiest travel day of the year, it's becoming known as a social night with drinking and partying, since many are off from work Thanksgiving Day. As many teens return home from college, and people take trips, Thanksgiving Eve is becoming one of the biggest party nights of the year.
Mothers against Drunk Driving are calling it "Blackout Wednesday," as in blacking out from too many drinks.
One local liquor store owner said he's definitely seen a jump in business this week, compared to last year.
For the Myrtle Beach area, police say it's not so much tonight we need to worry about. Today really kicks off a dangerous time on our roads, from now until New Years, as travel and festivities kicks into high gear.
When you hit the roads, highway patrol says, you need to be a defensive driver and focus on your safety. This Thanksgiving weekend, South Carolina has a unique situation which means troopers will place extra eyes on our highways.
"We have a college football game on Saturday, that we know is gonna gunner a lot of attention,” said Cpl. Sonny Collins with South Carolina Highway Patrol. “People having parties, going to clubs, bars, watching that game, so that adds in a whole new fact for the weekend that the likelihood of someone out drinking and driving is going to be out there."
Last year, highway patrol noted five fatal accidents, from Wednesday to Sunday, the year prior there were ten. Even though the numbers are going down - that number should be zero. With that being said, South Carolina Highway Patrol expects to have every single trooper out - in some fashion - by the end of the weekend.
On top of that, troopers will be conducting safety breaks at rest stops today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is a chance to talk about safe driving and grab some safety materials.
These meetups will be along our interstates, where highway patrol expects traffic to triple.
"During this holiday period we will be conducting random road checks both on the Grand Strand and in the Pee Dee and that will happen all over the state because we're looking for those impaired drivers, those people driving that shouldn't be out on the roads because with all the traffic that's gonna be there, any little issue can turn into a big problem very quickly,” said Cpl. Collins.
The general consensus from police, liquor stores and cab companies is that this holiday weekend is only the start of road dangers heading into New Year holiday.
To keep us out of the danger zone, SCDOT is halting lane closures on highways and interstates. This will start at noon Wednesday, and last until Monday morning.