SACRAMENTO, Calif. -

Thanksgiving travel season is upon us and the California Highway Patrol is reminding motorists to buckle up. Distance doesn't matter, whether traveling across the country or just across town, buckling up is one way to help secure a safe arrival to your destination.

"Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "As the volume of traffic on the roadways increases so does the risk of being involved in a serious or deadly collision."

Providing safety and assistance throughout the state, CHP officers will engage in a Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP).

The Thanksgiving MEP starts Wednesday, November 27, at 6 p.m. and runs through Sunday, December 1, 2013, at 11:59 p.m.

In 2012, 44 people in California died in traffic collisions during the Thanksgiving holiday period. This was more than a 37 percent increase over the same time period in 2011. Many crash victims were not wearing their seat belt.

The CHP joins with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the traffic safety campaign: "Buckle Up America - Every Trip. Every Time."

"The simple act of using a seat belt or child safety seat, every time you get into a vehicle can be the difference between life and death in the event of a collision," added Commissioner Farrow.

In addition to enforcing the seat belt law, CHP officers will also be on the look out for aggressive and impaired drivers. During last year's 4 ¼ day Thanksgiving MEP, CHP officers made more than 1,300 arrests for driving under the influence.

Motorists are encouraged to report impaired drivers by calling 9-1-1.