GSP advises slowing down on Memorial Day weekend

Thu, 05/21/2009 - 3:24pm
By: The Citizen

Georgia State Troopers and officers with the Georgia Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Motor Carrier Compliance Division will be strictly enforcing safety belt laws this coming Memorial Day holiday weekend. Additionally, the law enforcement personnel will be watching for impaired drivers during their holiday patrols. Up to 875 injuries are predicted, along with 18 deaths.

The Memorial Day holiday period begins at 6 p.m. this Friday and ends at midnight Memorial Day. The Georgia State Patrol (GSP) estimates as many as 2,725 traffic crashes, resulting in 875 injuries and 18 traffic deaths, could occur during the 78-hour holiday period.

During the 2008 Memorial Day period, 2,480 traffic crashes, 721 injuries and 12 fatal crashes resulting in 14 traffic deaths were reported to the Georgia State Patrol from law enforcement agencies across Georgia. GSP investigated eight of the 12 fatal crashes. Investigating troopers reported alcohol and the lack of safety belt use were the primary contributing factors in a majority of the fatal crashes they investigated. Alcohol was a factor in five of the traffic deaths and a driver impaired by drugs was noted in one fatal crash. Four of the victims were not restrained by safety belts. Other fatal crashes reported involved a motorcycle, a four-wheeler, or a pedestrian.

Colonel Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said troopers and DPS officers will be conducting roadchecks, high visibility patrols, and concentrated patrols across the state during the holiday period.

“Last year, motor vehicle travel was considerably lighter than previous Memorial Day holiday travel periods due to the price of gasoline,” Colonel Hitchens said. “This year, we anticipate travel to be heavier.”

Troopers and MCCD officers will be concentrating on the secondary roads throughout the weekend as all of the fatal crashes investigated by the Georgia State Patrol during the 2008 Memorial Day holiday period occurred on state routes or county roads.

“Speed, a lack of occupant protection use, and impaired drivers are the leading contributing factors of fatal crashes on our roads,” Colonel Hitchens emphasized “This is All-American Buckle-Up Week across the nation,” he noted. “This is an excellent opportunity for everyone who will be traveling to make sure safety belts are used on every trip.”

Adults should take the time to properly install child safety seats by following the installation instructions contained in the owner’s manual for the specific model.

GSP is joining state highway patrol and state police agencies across the country and Canada this weekend for Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort. The program encourages the safe operation of motor vehicles and increased safety belt use through education and enforcement. The program is now in its 32nd year.

“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. “In Georgia, if you spot a suspected impaired driver, call Star G-S-P (*477) on your cell phone to report the driver to the Georgia State Patrol.”

Colonel Hitchens said troopers are also participating in Operation Click It or Ticket this week. The high-visibility safety belt program is being conducted across the country to increase safety belt use in an effort to save lives.

Hitchens noted the recent report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that found safety belt use among commercial motor vehicle drivers reached an all-time high last year. The national survey of commercial drivers found 72 percent of truck drivers now wear their safety belts, compared to 65 percent just one year ago. Federal regulations require safety belt use among commercial motor vehicle drivers. The report also found nearly 40 percent of unbelted truck driver fatalities could be prevented with safety belt use, and up to 70 percent of moderate injuries to drivers could be reduced or eliminated by the proper use of a safety belt.

The highest number of traffic deaths on Georgia roads during the Memorial Day holiday weekend occurred in 2005 when 32 people were killed in holiday crashes. The lowest number was recorded in 1979 and 2007 when 10 people were killed. The Department began keeping statistics on Memorial Day travel in 1969.

login to post comments