When it comes to holiday travel figures for east Mississippi, state officials say so far, so good!
"In fact, we had nine DUI arrests," says Capt. Billy Mayes with the Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop H. "We had a grand total of 326 citations issued. This year we only had one accident in this district that was alcohol-related, so that is a big improvement from years past."
Not only that, but with no deaths reported so far this holiday period on state highways in East Mississippi, troopers say their work is paying off but it's not easy.
Currently three troopers from the MHP office in Meridian are on active military duty. That has left 23 troopers to cover the district's nine county area seven days a week. Given this, Troop H officials credit much of their success this holiday period to finding ways to do more with less!
"I just think the high visibility had a lot to do with the low accident totals in this district," says Capt. Mayes. "We had cancelled days off for the men and they were scheduled to come out and work Friday, Saturday and Sunday and they got out and worked and did an outstanding job."
With heavy traffic expected again for New Year's celebrations, Highway Patrol officials say motorists can expect the same high trooper visibility this weekend.
"We will have just as many troopers for New Year's as we did for Christmas," says Mayes. "Days off are cancelled for the Friday and Monday, which are the main two travel days, and we're looking at having a safe weekend like at Christmas."
Although no fatal accidents were reported in Mississippi over the Christmas holiday period, there was at least one death reported in West Alabama. That was Saturday around 10 p.m. in Gainesville on Highway 39. Fifty-five-year-old Clarence Burrell of Gainesville was killed in that one-vehicle crash.