Saturday, November 1, 2014 · 9:17 a.m.
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The THP will be enforcing seat belt laws in full force this holiday season. (Photo: MGNOnline)

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security announced Thursday that the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be out in full force this Christmas period to ensure that holiday travelers reach their destinations safely.

The holiday period begins at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 21 and ends at midnight on Dec. 25.

This year, the focus will be on impaired driving prevention and seat belt usage, officials said.

During the 2011 holiday season, nine people were killed on Tennessee roadways in six crashes. Alcohol was involved in 66 percent of those crashes, and four of the eight vehicle occupants weren't wearing seat belts. One pedestrian was killed during that period, officials said. 

The highest number of people ever killed during a Christmas holiday period was in 1969, when 22 people were killed in traffic crashes, resulting in a fatality rate of one death per 1.4 hours.

“Unfortunately, impaired driving is a year-round problem. It becomes especially serious during the holidays as more people are traveling to and from parties and special gatherings,” THP Col. Tracy Trott said in a prepared statement. “Our goal is to remove offenders from the roadways and protect the motoring public. We want this joyous time to be safe for everyone, and all of our traffic safety enforcement efforts are created with that goal in mind."

The THP will use several enforcement tools, such as saturation patrols, bar and tavern checks, and driver's license and sobriety checkpoints.

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