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Safety is a top priority as nearly 600,000 Oregonians hit the road

(KATU Photo)

EUGENE, Ore. -- Nearly 50 million Americans and more than 590,000 Oregonians will travel for Thanksgiving, according to AAA.

That's the most travelers in nearly a decade.

For Oregon, this comes at a time when the state is already seeing more cars on the road than usual.

"Since the recession in 2007 and 2008, we've seen a real big bump up in the number of travelers on our roads, almost double digit increases in the number of travelers," Lou Torres, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said.

More travelers means more accidents.

ODOT reports 410 fatal accidents on state highways so far this year.

That's already more than the 366 last year.

"We're busy, from driving complaints to motor vehicle crashes and fatalities and also impaired drivers," Oregon State Police Lt. Vonn Schleicher said.

State Police are ramping up patrols for Thanksgiving week.

"We're going to be focusing a lot on distracted drivers, impaired drivers, speed, seat belt usage," Schleicher said.

That will continue through Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the Civil War football game Saturday.

"We do a great job of planning for the actual party or the event, but we do a horrible job planning for afterwards, 'How are we going to get home? Do we have a designated driver?" Schleicher said.

Bottom line, travel experts and police say the same thing: be prepared and be responsible.

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