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Highway patrol reports safe Christmas travel period

By Staff
From staff and wire reports
Dec. 26, 2001
JACKSON More state troopers on the road and a high-profile "buckle up" campaign have made this one of the safest holiday travel periods in years, the Mississippi Highway Patrol says.
By Tuesday evening, the MHP had investigated 109 wrecks none involving deaths during the Christmas travel rush. The holiday weekend began Friday at 6 p.m. and ended at midnight Tuesday.
Capt. Roger Welborn with the Meridian Police Department said he was unaware of any vehicle accidents in the city during the holiday period.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said his department has investigated three vehicle accidents on county roads since Friday. None, he said, involved fatalities.
At least one person was killed in a traffic-related accident during the weekend. Lillian Merle Harris of Edwards died Sunday morning after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
Her body was found beside the road near Old U.S. 80 and Vicksburg Street in Edwards.
Elsewhere in the state, the Highway Patrol had written 6,618 tickets and arrested 136 people for driving under the influence on state roads through midday Christmas, Armstrong said.
He said the state had an extra 108 troopers on the road for Christmas, which also likely caused motorists to slow down and buckle up.
The final tally for accidents, tickets and arrests will be available today.
In October, the MHP cited higher trooper visibility and lower tolerance for speeders as the reasons for a 40 percent drop in traffic deaths so far this year.
The "Click it or Ticket" campaign started in the spring also helped, Armstrong said.
MHP officials said last year's larger-than-usual trooper class has put more troopers on the road, and word of speeding tickets helps lower traveling speeds.
Troopers issued almost 20,000 more speeding tickets statewide in the first half of 2001 compared with the first half of 2000. There also has been a significant increase in vehicle miles traveled by troopers.
The New Year's travel period begins Friday at 6 p.m. and ends Jan. 1 at midnight.

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