State officers focusing on holiday safety

Published 12:24 pm Friday, May 25, 2012

Traffic is expected to be heavy throughout the state during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday travel period and the Georgia State Patrol is asking motorists to make sure everyone is buckled up as they travel.

The 78-hour holiday period begins Friday at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Memorial Day.

“This coming weekend there are many graduations, festivals, holiday travelers, and family gatherings that will increase the volume of traffic on our highways,” said Colonel Mark McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “The extra traffic can also increase the chances of you being involved in a traffic crash.”

The commissioner noted that Operation Click It or Ticket is underway until June 3 with state troopers joining law enforcement officers across the country in a stepped up seat belt enforcement campaign.

“We want you to be safe as you travel this holiday weekend,” he added.

Last year during the Memorial Day holiday travel period, the Georgia State Patrol investigated 312 traffic crashes that resulted in 236 injuries and 13 traffic deaths. In the fatal crashes, three victims were motorcycle operators and one person killed was operating an all-terrain vehicle. Colonel McDonough noted alcohol was a contributing factor in 6 of the 13 fatalities, and 8 of the 9 people killed in either a passenger car or pickup truck were not wearing seat belts.

Colonel McDonough said troopers will not only be patrolling the interstates but the secondary roads as well. “We want to make holiday travel as safe as possible,” he said. In addition to the traffic crash investigations last Memorial Day weekend, troopers arrested 209 people for driving under the influence while issuing 7,499 citations and 6,625 warnings.

This Memorial Day weekend the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources will be stressing the importance of not driving or boating under the influence.

“Past experience has shown that warm weather and outdoor recreational activities can lead to an increase in the number of impaired drivers behind the wheel,” he said. “The goal of our partnership with the Department of Natural Resources is to keep you safe whether you are on the roads or on the water.”

“Georgia DNR and the Georgia State Patrol would like to emphasize responsibility and safety, especially during the increased traffic expected on holiday weekends,” says Lt. Colonel Jeff Weaver, DNR assistant chief of law enforcement. “Alcohol, mixed with driving or boating activities, creates dangerous conditions that can lead not only to an arrest, but also to tragedy.”

Colonel McDonough encourages everyone who will be traveling to always use their safety belt and take the time to make sure children are properly restrained. “This is All-American Buckle-Up Week across the country and state highway patrols and state police agencies are concentrating on getting the message out that safety belt use saves lives,” he said.