Holiday on highways stays relatively safe, authorities say

TUPELO – Despite bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highways and city streets on Black Friday, authorities said so far things have gone smoothly over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The holiday runs from Nov. 25-29, according to the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Since it began there have been at least two accident fatalities elsewhere in the state.
Mississippi Highway Patrolman Ray Hall, who works out of New Albany, said this Thanksgiving has been busy and relatively safe so far. He reported no fatalities in Northeast Mississippi.
According to preliminary statistics released by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, at least 90 people statewide were arrested for DUI, nine for drugs and there were 139 collisions on Wednesday and Thursday. Complete holiday traffic statistics for the area and state will be available later this week.
One of the busiest days of the year for traffic is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Enticed by earlybird and doorbuster deals, shoppers leave their homes in the middle of the night for sales. This means a lot of traffic in shopping areas like on North Gloster Street.
Tupelo police said even though traffic was congested, it was not a problem.
As for the shoppers themselves, there were mixed results.
James Richards got up early to head to Walmart in hopes of cashing in on early deals. But what usually is a 10-minute drive from his home in east Tupelo to Walmart on North Gloster Street, took Richards more than an hour to get to the store and another 30 minutes to find a parking spot.
“My wife had to work so the shopping duties were left to me and I see why it’s called Black Friday,” said Richards. “There were people everywhere. On every road, every aisle in the stores and every single parking space, there was a person or two occupying it. Honestly, it wasn’t worth it for me to get up that early and fight all that traffic for a few bucks in saving. Next year I’ll turn this part of the holiday shopping back over to her.”
Martha White shared Richards’ frustration with traffic and shoppers in general.
“The traffic was bad but I can deal with that,” she said. “But what was annoying was the rude drivers. People were changing lanes without signaling, riding on people’s bumpers and saying rude things. Road rage was definitely out early Friday. But that’s something I knew I’d have to deal with if I was going shopping.”
Samantha Norris said despite the traffic, she enjoyed every aspect of the shopping day.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal