Aprojected 7.1 million travelers will hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday in the Pacific Northwest.

Aprojected 7.1 million travelers will hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday in the Pacific Northwest.

Unfortunately, according to police, a fair amount of those people will have had too much to drink before climbing behind the wheel.

The Medford Police Department has pledged to ramp up patrols over Thanksgiving to keep drunk drivers off the road.

"This certainly has been a traditionally busy weekend for us," said Medford police Sgt. Mark Boone.

Boone said the influx of visiting relatives and college-age young adults returning to town for turkey day results in more drivers on the streets.

It also means more intoxicated motorists heading home from bars and holiday parties.

"People sometimes drink a little more during the holidays," Boone said. "We want the citizens of Medford to have fun during the holidays, but we want them to be safe."

The department is joining forces with other local law enforcement agencies over this Thanksgiving weekend to conduct high visibility DUII saturation patrols. These agencies will be teaming up throughout the year to catch impaired drivers throughout Jackson County.

The goal of the joint agency DUII saturation is not only to arrest impaired drivers but to create a general deterrence through high-visibility enforcement.

"We really want people to use designate drivers," Boone said.

In a recent report by AAA, holiday traffic throughout the Pacific Northwest is expected to increase 14 percent over last year.

The reasons are a slowly improving economy and lower gas prices, the agency said.

Traveler are expected to face chilly temperatures and rain, according the National Weather Service.

Weather officials are calling for rain mainly after 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving day.

The lows are expected to reach the high 30s in the Rogue Valley, which could keep ice from forming on the roads.

The weather should improve as the week continues, with the sun poking out of the clouds periodically from Friday through Sunday.

Highs over the weekend are expected to reach the 50s with traces of sunshine throughout the day.

The weekend should stay relatively dry before the rain returns early next week.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.