Media & Public Relations

Contact: Carl DeFebo
Phone: 717.920.7176
November 23, 2009

Pennsylvania Turnpike Braces for 2.1 Million Vehicles during Thanksgiving

Turnpike's State Police on lookout for aggressive drivers during holidays.

HARRISBURG, PA (11/23/2009)(readMedia)-- Pennsylvania Turnpike officials expect more than 2.1 million vehicles to travel the Turnpike throughout the five-day Thanksgiving Holiday period starting this Wednesday through Sunday. It's the busiest holiday of the year on the toll road system.

As a result, construction and maintenance work has been modified to allow maximum use of the roadway; at least four lanes will be open beginning 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24 until 6 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 30, except in emergencies. Some roadwork that does not impact lanes may continue behind barriers in some areas, reducing shoulder widths.

Motorists should be aware of the likelihood of slow-moving and periodic stopped traffic on Wednesday and Sunday. The Turnpike expects traffic volumes will be heaviest Wednesday from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

Turnpike maintenance crews, State Farm Safety Patrols, and the Pennsylvania State Police are increasing forces to assist stranded motorists, keep traffic moving and respond to emergencies. With the hectic holiday season under way, the State Police reminds motorists that aggressive behavior on the highway is illegal and unwise.

"Tailgating, speeding and weaving in and out of traffic leads to nothing but trouble," said Cpl. Richard N. Dean of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop T. "In fact, aggressive driving causes an increasing number of severe motor-vehicle injuries and fatalities."

Troopers will be seeking and citing aggressive drivers this Thanksgiving. "If you see an aggressive driver on the Turnpike, you can get a state-police response by dialing *11 on your mobile phone," Cpl. Dean said. "Slow down, take a deep breath and relax to ensure that you, your passengers and other holiday travelers arrive alive."

To promote the importance of safety during the Thanksgiving Holiday, the Turnpike is sponsoring free "Take-a-Break" events on Nov. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Allentown Service Plaza on the Northeastern Extension and the Sideling Hill Service Plaza on the east-west mainline. The theme is, "You're never alone on the PA Turnpike," and personnel will be on site to distribute safety handouts, provide demonstrations and answer questions.

Turnpike maintenance workers and the State Farm Safety Patrols will be available to explain safety equipment and offer safe-travel tips. In addition, Pennsylvania State Police will be at the events to conduct voluntary child safety seat inspections, and E-ZPass representatives will help enroll motorists in the program and answer questions.

During the events, families can also receive free child ID kits to supply law enforcement agencies with the critical data they would need in case of a missing-child investigation. The kits, to be completed at home, contain descriptive information about each child in the household plus other important resources including fingerprints and recent photographs. Parents, grandparents and guardians can obtain the child ID kits - courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) - while supplies last.

When visiting the service plazas, travelers should take a moment to look at the photographs of missing children on display. One in six missing children are recovered when recognized by a member of the general public who paused to look at a photo, according to NCMEC. Travelers can call 1-800-THE-LOST if they think they spotted one of these missing children.

The Allentown plaza is between the Lehigh Valley and Quakertown exits on I-476 and the Sideling Hill facility is between the Breezewood and Fort Littleton exits on I-76. The travel plazas are accessible to traffic from both directions.

To better plan ahead for holiday travels, Turnpike motorists can get real-time information about roadway conditions via the Turnpike Roadway Information Program, or "TRIP," by visiting or calling 1-866-976-TRIP (8747). Officials advise motorists headed for the Turnpike to check out conditions before they leave.

In case of an accident, breakdown or other emergency, motorists can utilize the yellow emergency call boxes on the shoulder or dial *-11 or 1-800-332-3880 to receive aid. Be prepared to give your milepost location and direction of travel and move the involved vehicles out of active travel lanes if possible.

As an extra precaution, over-dimensional commercial vehicles (trucks exceeding 8-1/2 feet wide, 85 feet long, 13-1/2 feet high or 100,000 pounds gross weight) will be restricted from traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike beginning sundown Nov. 24 to sunrise Nov. 30.