CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)— The Wednesday before Thanksgiving has always been known as the busiest travel day of the season, but it also begins the start of a six-week retail period in Christiansburg.
WDBJ7 rode along with Lt. Chris Heidt to see how they increase their patrols around the NRV Mall and plan to crack down on DUI enforcement as more people than usual make their way to town for holiday shopping.
Heidt patrols the northern part of Christiansburg each day he’s on the job.
“The only time traffic is really heavy around here is during the holiday season or when the interstate is closed down for some reason,” Heidt said during the ride-along.
During our drive around the NRV Mall, two people pulled out in front of us that could have been distracted. Heidt said one of the biggest reasons for accidents here is because people are stressed and pushed for time to get their shopping done.
“Be patient, be courteous,” he said. “I know that it’s frustrating especially if you’re stuck behind a crash and you’re in a traffic backup, but try to be patient. I think frustration leads to a lot of accidents.”
Another big trigger for accidents are construction zones. Right now there are three big projects in the town.
“The road that you normally travel is not there. It moves it over 10 feet in one direction. You gotta keep that in mind,” Heidt said. “You just gotta take extra care in those areas.”
Heidt suggests using the Virginia 511 tool before you go anywhere because you can see live traffic updates and make an alternative plan if your route gets blocked.
“We try to get everything open as quickly as possible, but sometimes during severe crashes, sometimes it’s not possible to open a roadway for hours,” he said.
Finally, he suggests having the most mental clarity you can when you plan for any drive, long or short.
“Any time you’re traveling it helps to be well rested and focused on what you’re doing,” Heidt said.
On an average day in Christiansburg, he said they typically have about three to four reportable accidents, but that can increase up to eight or 10 when the traffic is heavy.
Some other suggestions for safe travel include:
• Bring a cell phone charger
• Check that your car is in working order
• Carry medical papers with you if you have a condition, so first-responders can help you more quickly
• Allow for extra time to get where you need to be
• Wear your seat-belt
• Be aware of weather conditions
• Have proper seats installed for children
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