Jessica Mathews /

Local law enforcement agencies and others across the state will be conducting stepped-up patrols through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in an effort to prevent traffic crashes and fatalities.

The Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving is still considered one of the most dangerous times to be on the road, according to AAA Michigan. Now known as “Blackout Wednesday” - it is one of the biggest bar and drinking nights of the year, combined with one of the nation’s busiest travel days. Motorists are urged to avoid any impaired driving, buckle up, and put down distractions.

Per Michigan law, a person with a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater is considered over the limit and anyone arrested will face stiff penalties including hefty fines and jail time. In addition to impaired driving, law enforcement will focus on seat belt use, careless driving, and speeding.

AAA Michigan says this marks the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since the Auto Club began tracking holiday travel in 2000. Spokeswoman Adrienne Woodland told WHMI travel demand has been strong all year and that trend is continuing.

With the amount of Michiganders expected to hit the roads for Thanksgiving, AAA is preparing to rescue more than 360,000 drivers with car trouble over the holiday weekend.

The Auto Club is also stressing the importance of keeping everyone safe on the roadways this holiday. AAA says the danger is particularly multiplied for those on the roadside, such as first responders, tow trucks, and any motorist with a disabled vehicle. According to the Emergency Response Safety Institute, over the past 5 years, an emergency responder is struck and killed on U.S. roads once every week.