(ATLANTA)—The July Fourth holiday period could claim the lives of 14 people on Georgia roads if predictions from the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety come true.  The holiday period begins Friday, July 2 at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Sunday, July 4.

            Colonel George Ellis, Commander of the Georgia State Patrol, said Tuesday the traffic predictions are for 2,044 traffic crashes, 665 injuries and 14 fatalities during the 54-hour holiday period.  Last year, 19 people were killed in traffic crashes during a 78-hour holiday period.  There were 2,453 traffic crashes and 711 injuries.

            “Statistics bear out the reasons state troopers will be on full patrol during the holiday period,” Colonel Ellis said.  “Sadly, 11 of the 19 fatalities involved an impaired driver and 15 of those killed were not wearing seat belts or using other safety equipment.”

            Colonel Ellis said troopers will be targeting drunk drivers during their holiday patrols and reminded motorists that the Georgia State Patrol is participating in Operation Zero Tolerance, a statewide crackdown on impaired drivers by Georgia law enforcement.  He said troopers will be teaming with local police officers and sheriffs’ deputies across the state for roadchecks during the holiday weekend.  “Plan carefully and use a designated driver if alcohol will be in your holiday plans,” Colonel Ellis said.

            Troopers will also be participating in the nationwide Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort.  Law enforcement officers across the country and Canada are working together to reduce the number of traffic deaths on the nation’s roads through high visibility patrols and education.

            The highest number of July Fourth holiday period fatalities was recorded in 1972 when 34 people were killed and the lowest was two in 1962 and again in 1984.