Authorities weather holiday traffic woes

y Steve Rogers A northbound car in the outside lane tried to move to the inside lane only to bump into a mini-van carrying a mom and child.
By: 
STEVE ROGERS
Staff Writer

Next to parking lot fender-benders, they are the most frequent type of accident during holidays. That's a car changing lanes and hitting a car in their blind spot or forcing it off the road.

The already busy Highway 45 Alternate turned into a slow-moving parking lot at about 1 p.m. Friday when a northbound car in the outside lane tried to move to the inside lane only to bump into a mini-van carrying a mom and child.

The minivan careened off Highway 45 Alternative into the ditch that lines the west side of Zuber Park.

None of the three were injured.

"It's the biggest thing we get at this time of year. People just get in a hurry and don't pay quite as much attention," West Point Police Chief Avery Cook said as he surveyed the scene and his officers scrambled to try to clear the cars and get traffic going.

"This is really a bad time. It's right at lunch, you've got folks starting to travel and you've got folks out finishing up shopping. This isn't the way we wanted to started the Christmas weekend," he added. "We've got enough folks on the road without something like this."

Cook planned extra patrols along the busy highway Friday and into Saturday to try to slow down traffic and keep drivers more aware. AAA estimates holiday travel will be up 3.1 percent this year over last to a record 107.3 million people going away from home. Of those, an estimated 97.4 million will travel by car.

State transportation experts say at its peak, as many as 30,000 cars a day may travel on Highway 45 Alternate through West Point, including local traffic and people passing through since it is a major north south artery through the eastern part of the state.

Hotels in West Point and Columbus are reporting strong bookings this weekend as relatives come to visit family and friends.

Starkville's lodging also reports good reservation numbers, even though Mississippi State students are out for the holidays.

The Bulldogs play on the road in a bowl game Dec. 30, but hotel managers say that has not impacted their traffic with fans going to the game rather than traveling more locally.

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