Driving Home for Christmas

By: Keith Jones Email
By: Keith Jones Email

The weekend before Christmas has arrived, and that means the roads and skies are becoming packed with travelers.

One young couple who left Friday afternoon doesn't expect to get home before Saturday morning. Thousands of others are in the same boat and will experience the perils of traveling during the holidays.

John Ryan and Karissa Sinack have been dating for five years, and they put their relationship to the test on a 12-hour trip.

"We left later than we'd like. We tried to miss traffic, but we got a late start. We ran into some traffic around the major cities obviously around 6:00 or so, but other than that, the traffic really hasn't been too bad," says Ryan.

The pair and their dog are headed to Geneva, New York from Mooresville, North Carolina to visit family for Christmas. According to their directions, they'll travel on I-81 for 350 miles.

"We have the iPod MP3 player with lots of songs on that. We listen to lots of music. We brought our laptop and some movies to watch. Other than that that's about it; company," says Ryan, who took off work to avoid weekend traffic.

Even though Sinack isn't driving, she says other cars sometimes make the trip stressful.

"People who, when you come up behind them, they don't want to move over right away for you and they're going slower than the speed limit," says Sinack.

Even when the trip gets boring, they can always count on their four-legged companion for entertainment.

"He sleeps a lot. I guess it depends on whether the dog likes to ride in the car and he loves it so," says Ryan.

They say they practice safe driving techniques throughout their trip.

This December, Virginia is nearing a 17-year high in the number of traffic deaths. At the current rate, Virginia's 2007 highway death toll could break 1,000 for the first time since 1990.

Virginia is only 20 traffic fatalities away from that 1,000 mark, and the State Police say to give yourself enough time to get to the place you're going, especially in inclement weather.

They also say to wear your seat belt, avoid distractions, carry your cell phone, and if you don't have to travel, don't get on the road.

Sgt. Frank Pyanoe, Virginia State Police, says this weekend, police will be maximizing their enforcement efforts on the interstates.

He says, "We increase patrols on the highways. We're concentrating on speeding and aggressive driving violations, occupant restraint violations, and drunk and drugged driver violations."

The Virginia Department of Transportation says they will extend their safety patrol operations in the Valley through the holidays.

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