Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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March 27, 2014

Events create crowded roads

Officials urge area drivers to be cautious

JACKSONVILLE — The streets are crowded this week and will continue to be congested throughout the weekend with two big events taking place in Jacksonville – the Mud Creek Mud Nationals and Thunder in the Pines.

Jacksonville police urge drivers to pay attention to the rules of the road and to the driver next to them to help avoid wrecks.

“You need to be a lot more aware of trucks making turns in front of you,” said Officer Chase Berryhill of the Jacksonville Police Department. “Use your mirrors when you are changing lanes, and be aware of what's around you. Don't get in a truck's blind spot.”

JPD Chief Reece Daniel added that drivers need to be patient and observe all traffic laws, especially red lights and stop signs.

“We will be observing for speeding, intoxicated drivers and right-of-way violations because these are three main contributors to accidents,” Daniel said. “This weekend, be especially careful to look for motorcycles on the street and give them the same respect and right-of-way you would give a car.”

Berryhill said patrol officers will be paying close attention to drivers, especially those who may be under the influence of alcohol.

“Our biggest problem is alcohol. A lot of people are drinking and are out late and are fatigued. Then they drive into town to get food, and they don't realize (how dangerous this is),” Berryhill said.

Officials urge caution on the roads, especially on Loop 204 and U.S. Hwy 79 East.

“Every year we have a really bad crash on Hwy. 79 (during Mud Creek.) Drivers need to slow down and especially be cautious near the Mud Creek entrance off Hwy. 79,” Berryhill said.

Berryhill added that there is a hill on the highway near Mud Creek, which may also contribute to problems, he said.

Daniel said drivers should “Stay off your cell phones. Don't text and drive, and always watch ahead for towed vehicles that might stop suddenly.”

At noon Friday, Austin Street at Rusk Street and a portion of Commerce Street will be closed to accommodate Thunder in the Pines. Daniel said vendors will be set up in the area for those attending the event, which is sponsored by the Jacksonville Police Association.

Officials say as long as everyone is careful on the roads, the two events offer a fun time for area residents.

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