The Missouri State Highway Patrol is reminding area motorists to drive safe this Christmas season.

The MSHP is offering some basic tips to assist with safe traveling. Check your vehicle before traveling to ensure that its in good working condition. Make sure you are well rested before driving to your destination, no matter how short the distance. Keep an eye on the weather, too. Obey all traffic laws, be a courteous driver, and drive sober.

The Highway Patrol says there were 885 traffic crashes during the Christmas counting period last year. In those crashes, five people were killed and another 314 were injured.

The counting period for the 2017 Christmas holiday begins at 6:oo p.m. on Friday, December 22 and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, December 25.

Holiday travel will affect traffic conditions. Check the weather forecast in the area and plan accordingly. For the 'Road Condition Report' call 1-888-275-6636.

If there is a traffic emergency, motorists can call the Missouri State Highway Patrol at 1-800-525-5555 or *55 on a cellular phone. The emergency number will ring into the nearest Highway Patrol headquarters. Motorists are encouraged to use this number if they are in a traffic crash, witness a crash or crime, or observe a stranded motorist in need of assistance, or other traffic emergencies.

“Don’t let the excitement of the season distract you from being a safe, courteous driver,” said Colonel Sandra K. Karsten, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. “Be a courteous driver and be an attentive driver this holiday. If you include alcohol in your celebrations, designate a sober driver. On behalf of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, I want to wish everyone a safe, merry Christmas!”

Kurt Parsons