Get ready for the busiest driving season of the year.

And the increased traffic that comes with the Thanksgiving holiday usually means more crashes.

"Thanksgiving is like the perfect storm for crashes," said Wayne Harper, director of the Center for Traffic Safety based in York County.

Travelers will hit the roads for holiday trips, hunters will be heading to camps in search of deer and shoppers will be out hunting for Black Friday deals starting on Thanksgiving.

"You have people going from place to place, thinking about where they're going next and what they're going to buy instead of what's in front of them when they're driving," Harper said.

Crashes: A total of 4,328 crashes and 53 fatalities occurred statewide during the Thanksgiving period last year, according to the state Department of Transportation.

More than 600 of those crashes were alcohol-related, resulting in 27 deaths, according to the traffic safety center.

State and local officials will take part in a number of initiatives to curb crashes, deter drunk drivers and catch those who get behind the wheel after one too many drinks.

Efforts began Friday with a statewide "Click It or Ticket" seat belt enforcement that runs through Sunday, PennDOT said.


Starting this week, law enforcement kicked off the six-week-long "Operation Safe Holiday" that targets impaired driving, aggressive driving, and unbelted occupants.

Sobriety checkpoints are scheduled for Lancaster and York counties between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 6 p.m. Monday, as well as a roving DUI patrol that will be held in Adams County, according to the traffic safety center.

"Thanksgiving continues to be one of the most dangerous weekends for motorists. We continue to urge drivers to buckle up and avoid driving impaired on Pennsylvania's roadways," said PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch.

Fatalities: With more than a month left in 2013, fatal crashes in York County have increased over last year.

According to the York County Coroner's Office, 42 fatal crashes happened in York County so far this year. The office investigated 30 fatal crash deaths last year. At least three of them involved victims brought to York Hospital from other counties before being pronounced dead.

Of the 42 people killed this year, five were pedestrians, one was a passenger on an ATV, one was a bicyclist, one was a passenger who leapt from a moving car and one was riding a skateboard, according to data from the coroner's office.

Seven of the crash victims were on motorcycles, and five of those were not wearing helmets.

Alcohol was found in the systems of 11 of the those killed, 10 of whom were over the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Harper said those crashes could have been prevented if alcohol were taken out of the equation.

"It's 11 too many," he said. "There's 11 less we would have had."

-- Reach Greg Gross at