Troopers expecting busy Labor Day weekend

Published 6:53 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Georgia State Troopers are preparing for a busy Labor day holiday travel period across the state, with traffic expected to be heavy, according to a press release from the Georgia State Patrol. The holiday period begins Friday at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Labor Day.

Traffic crashes in Georgia during the 2010 Labor Day period claimed the lives of 14 people, according to crash statistics from the Crash Reporting Unit at the Georgia Department of Transportation. During the 78-hour holiday period, there were 2,580 traffic crashes and 1,042 injuries also reported.

Colonel Mark McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said Georgia State Troopers and Motor Carrier Compliance Division Officers will be patrolling throughout the weekend. He said enforcement personnel will be watching for impaired drivers, speeders, people not wearing seat belts, and people who do not properly restrain children.

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“Alcohol, speed, and occupant protection violations are the primary contributing factors in fatal traffic crashes in our state,” McDonough said.

The commissioner said troopers will be patrolling the secondary roads as well as the interstates throughout the holiday period.

“Past experience has shown the majority of the fatalities over a holiday weekend occur on the state routes, county roads, and city streets,” he noted.

Operation Zero Tolerance, the nation’s high visibility DUI enforcement program, is also under way now through the end of the Labor Day holiday period. Troopers and Motor Carrier Compliance Officers are conducting road checks and concentrated patrols on the secondary roads in an effort to intercept impaired drivers before they can cause a traffic crash.

McDonough reminds drivers to make sure their vehicle is in proper operating condition before beginning holiday travel by checking the belts, hoses, lights, tire pressure and fluid levels.

“Drivers should take every precaution to prevent being stranded on the road,” he said. “Once on the road, be alert for potential dangers by obeying the posted speed limit, not tailgating, allowing plenty of space before merging in front of tractor trailers, using a designated driver if alcohol will be in your plans, making sure everyone is wearing a seat belt, and taking the time to properly restrain children in a motor vehicle.”

The Georgia State Patrol is also partnering with the “Bee a Buckler” Safety Program to encourage everyone to buckle up this weekend. Governor Nathan Deal has proclaimed the Labor Day holiday weekend as “Bee a Buckler” Safe Driving Weekend in the state. In addition to urging everyone to buckle up, the program stresses other safe driving practices to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. The “Bee a Buckler” program was founded in 1969 by Jennie Glasgow of Sandy Springs and has been cited for its pioneering efforts as the first all-volunteer educational occupant safety program in the nation.

The Labor Day holiday period is also an Operation C.A.R.E. holiday where state law enforcement officers across the country join together for a concerted effort to encourage safe travel. Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, seeks to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roads by balancing high visibility enforcement with educational outreach.

The highest number of traffic fatalities for a Labor Day holiday period occurred in 1968 when 35 people died in traffic crashes, and the lowest number was recorded in 1939 and again in 1995 with seven fatalities each. The Georgia State Patrol will update the holiday traffic experience at throughout the holiday weekend.