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The Missouri Department of Transportation is calling for Missouri drivers to exercise patience, caution and good judgment behind the wheel this Thanksgiving week. 

In a news release, the department warns that on the night before Thanksgiving, sometimes referred to as Blackout Wednesday, it is common-place to attend get-togethers at bars, which often results in heavy drinking. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2013 to 2017 more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period. It is one of the deadliest holidays on our roadways, according to the news release. 

Black Friday also brings hazard to Missouri roadways due to drivers who are impatient to shop and are shopping on smartphones while driving. 

"A lot of people bounce around from store to store finding the best deals on Black Friday. Please leave the mobile shopping and phone calls to your passengers," said Joe Nelson, assistant to the state highway safety and traffic engineer, in the news release. 

The news release outlines that these tragedies are completely preventable.

"We have every reason to believe zero fatalities can be achieved during the 2019 holiday if we all make responsible choices behind the wheel," Nelson said. 

In addition, the department cautioned that distracted and impaired driving are not the only concerns for drivers during Thanksgiving week. They warned that due to the high level of travel during the week, Missouri interstate routes will be heavily congested. Drivers should expect and plan for delays along the interstates. 

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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