Motorists cautioned for holiday weekend

Published 5:40 pm Friday, July 2, 2010

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety urges drivers to use extra caution during the July 4th holiday driving period beginning Thursday, July 1, at 6PM and ending at midnight Sunday, July 4.

GOHS says motorists should be prepared to encounter high-visibility Operation Zero Tolerance sobriety checkpoints throughout the holiday weekend as part of the July 4th mobilization. Visit www.gahighwaysafety for more about driving sober.

There were 15 traffic deaths in Georgia during the 2009 Independence Day driving period. One of those fatal crashes was alcohol-related, eight other crash fatalities weren’t wearing seat belts, and three people were killed on motorcycles.

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“Most of these crashes aren’t just random events caused by too many cars navigating through too much congestion, said Director Bob Dallas of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). “Drivers need to pay attention to Georgia State Patrol warnings that alcohol, speed and failure to use safety belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes during the holiday travel periods.”

The Georgia State Patrol advises travelers to make sure drivers and passengers are all properly restrained, to designate a sober driver if alcohol consumption is in the holiday plans, and for that driver to obey the posted speed limit. GSP reminds motorists to make a cell phone call to Star G-S-P (*477) to report drunk drivers.

New driving laws in effect

Taking effect on July 1st, the Teen Cell Phone Driving Ban prohibits drivers under the age of 18 with a Class D license from talking on cell phones AND texting while driving.

The Texting While Driving Ban, which also goes into effect on July 1, applies to all drivers 18 and older who possess a Class C driver’s license. Under this new law, drivers cannot write, send or read a text message, email or use the internet on any wireless device while driving.

The Pickup Truck Safety Belt law, already in effect since it was signed by Governor Perdue on June 3rd, requires both drivers and passengers of pickup trucks to buckle-up in their vehicles except for certain farming exemptions.

Although a few police agencies are saying they will allow a month-long grace period before writing tickets for texting law violations, state highway safety Director Bob Dallas says motorists who still text while driving despite all the national safety publicity campaigns should start changing their high risk driving habits right away.