Holiday patrols to begin Wednesday

Published 1:32 pm Monday, November 23, 2009

(ATLANTA)—The 102-hour Thanksgiving holiday travel period begins Wednesday, November 25 and stepped up traffic enforcement is planned throughout the holiday weekend. Colonel Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said Georgia State Troopers and officers with the Motor Carrier Compliance Division will be concentrating on seat belt and speed violations while watching for impaired drivers on the state’s roads.

The holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 25 and ends at midnight Sunday, November 29. Estimates from the Crash Reporting Unit at the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia State Patrol are for 3,570 traffic crashes, 1,398 injuries, and 16 traffic deaths. Last year during a similar 102-hour holiday period, there were 3,815 traffic crashes that resulted in 1,457 injuries and 19 fatalities.

Colonel Hitchens said troopers and MCCD officers are participating in Operation Click It or Ticket with law enforcement officers across the United States throughout the holiday period in an effort to save lives. “Seat belts save lives and are the best defense against crash-related injuries and fatalities,” Colonel Hitchens said. “That is why we enforce seat belt and child restraint laws.”

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The Commissioner added that troopers will be watching for impaired drivers as well during holiday patrols. He noted the Thanksgiving holiday period is also a time when impaired drivers fail to heed the warnings to choose a designated driver. “We want everyone to enjoy the holiday period but also know that impaired drivers will go to jail and their vehicle impounded on the spot.”

Last year, seven of the 19 people killed in traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period were not wearing seat belts and one of the victims died in an alcohol-related crash.

The Georgia State Patrol reminds motorists to plan their travels carefully and allow plenty of time to reach their destination. “Anticipate traffic delays due to volume or a crash that blocks travel lanes,” Colonel Hitchens said. “Also, be prepared should rain make driving conditions hazardous.”

Motorists are reminded of Georgia’s “Steer It and Clear It” law that requires drivers involved in crashes with no apparent serious personal injury or death to move the vehicles out of the traffic lanes if the vehicles are drivable.

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is also an Operation C.A.R.E. holiday period. Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, is a program of the nation’s state highway patrols that promotes safe driving on interstate highways during the holiday periods. The program, sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, is now in its 32nd year with a goal of reducing traffic deaths through high visibility

enforcement and education across the United States and Canada.

The highest number of traffic deaths ever recorded for the Thanksgiving holiday period was 43 in 1969 and the lowest was four in 1949.

“If you will be traveling this holiday period, make sure everyone is properly restrained, obey the posted speed limit, and designate a sober driver if alcohol consumption will be in your plans,” Colonel Hitchens said.

The holiday traffic count is updated throughout the holiday weekend beginning Thanksgiving morning at the Georgia Department of Public Safety web site: .