BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Travel experts say we are back to almost pre-pandemic levels this holiday season. That raises a lot of concern over safety and stress.

Connecticut State Police got a grant for extra holiday personnel, so expect to see them on the roads. Expect not to see them, too.

“We’re going to be having increased patrols, some of which you may or may not see out there,” explained Sgt, Dawn Pagan of the CT State Police. “We’re using traditional and also non-traditional methods of traffic enforcement.”

This year’s highway fatalities are the highest we have seen in 15 years. The AAA says 2.5 million New Englanders are traveling this week. They say you should know your driving limits and practice self-regulation.

“Self-regulation can be as simple as not driving at night, or not driving after you’ve had a few drinks,” said Fran Mayko, spokesperson for AAA Northeast.

For those flying today, a treat at Tweed-New Haven Airport. A visit from K-9 Heidi of the Yale Public Safety Department.

“Heidi’s job is to create smiles and go around to the Yale community, the New Haven community,” said Rich Simons of Yale Public Safety. “When certain things are tense, Heidi comes in and lowers the temperature and makes people smile.”

Even though the masks passengers are required to wear in all airports, you could tell she was doing her job..
“I think it’s great. Every airport should have dogs like Heidi to make traveling a little easier,” said Avelo passenger and Branford resident Anna Folkers.

“I was joking that it would be okay if the longest line at the airport was to pet the service dog,” said fellow passenger Lilly Morse. “I’d be willing to do that.”

“We know people are going to be rushing to get where they have to go,” Simons said. “We want them to take a couple of minutes to just enjoy having Heidi and create a little smile and make people happy.”

While Heidi is a nice distraction, back out on the roads, police want you to eliminate distractions.

“You get a phone call, you get a text message, something goes off,” Sgt. Pagan said. “Just put an away message up or silence your phone for the meantime until you get to your destination.”

Police say they are not only concerned about people making phone calls and texting while driving, but also updating social media about how the holiday travels are going. They say, whatever it is, it can wait until you get where you’re going.

As of Nov. 24, here are the Thanksgiving Holiday Traffic Statistics:

Service Calls– 1,841

Speeding Violations– 45

Seatbelt Violation– 0

Other Hazardous Violations– 167

DUI Arests– 8

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