Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

Law enforcement officials are encouraging motorists to take safety precautions while traveling over the holiday weekend.

During the extended weekend last year, 32 people died in collisions on California's roadways - a 52 percent increase from Thanksgiving 2010, according to California Highway Patrol.

Two-thirds of the people killed in collisions within CHP's jurisdiction were not wearing a seat belt.

"Not only does the law require everyone inside the vehicle to be properly secured, seat belts are your best line of defense in a collision," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.

CHP will be monitoring highways for unbuckled drivers and passengers during its "maximum enforcement period" from 6 p.m. today through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

CHP is also encouraging travelers to avoid distractions while driving, travel at a speed that is safe for conditions and designate a non-drinking driver.

Last Thanksgiving weekend, CHP arrested 1,475 motorists for driving under the influence.

CHP encourages the public to report drivers who appear to be impaired by calling 911.

AAA's Tipsy Tow Program offers a free tow for anyone in Northern California from Thursday at 6 p.m. to Friday at 6 a.m. Members and nonmembers can call 800-222-4357 for a free tow and one-way ride up to 10 miles.

AAA Northern California advised travelers to check weather conditions before driving long distances or in isolated areas.

The travel organization recommends motorists delay trips if conditions are poor and inform others of their route, destination and estimated arrival time.

AAA also recommends having vehicles inspected before traveling to ensure they are in peak operating condition and consistently keeping the gas tank at least half-full during the trip.

Packing blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in the vehicle is also advised.

Travelers stranded in the snow are encouraged to stay with their vehicles for shelter and to make themselves more visible to rescuers.

Drivers stranded in their vehicles could become victims of deadly carbon monoxide leaks if their vehicles' exhaust pipes are blocked with snow, ice or mud, according to AAA.

Travel experts also recommend stranded travelers insulate their bodies using whatever items are available such as floor mats, newspapers and maps.

Drivers should run their engines and heaters just long enough to remove the chill from inside the vehicle while remembering to conserve gas, according to AAA.