Thanksgiving weekend is one of the last heavily traveled weekends of the year and the California Highway Patrol plans to conduct its annual Maximum Enforcement Period beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The MEP will continue through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, authorities said. During the enforcement period, all available CHP officers are expected to be on patrol assisting motorists and enforcing the law.

Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally one of the busiest travel times in the U.S. but can also be one of the deadliest, authorities said.

According to CHP data, 35 people died in traffic collisions statewide during last year’s holiday weekend, down from 45 in 2014. According to the data, 41 percent of the 17 vehicle occupants killed within the CHP jurisdiction were not wearing a seat belt.

“Buckling up is simple and the most important safety measure you can take to protect yourself in a collision,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “Seat belts save lives and prevent injuries. Do not put your own life at risk, or the life of your family or friends. Buckle up.”

Officers also made over 1,000 arrests for driving under the influence during last year’s MEP.

The Barstow area CHP also will participate in the annual Interstate 40 Challenge, which will consists of increased patrols on the interstate in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and North Carolina.

The goal is to have an officer a minimum of every 20 miles on I-40 in an effort to reduce aggressive driving, educate the public, look for impaired drivers and reduce fatal collisions.

For more information on the Thanksgiving weekend MEP, contact your local CHP office or visit the CHP website at www.chp.ca.gov.

Jose Quintero may be reached at 760-955-5332 or JQuintero@DesertDispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DD_JQuintero.