Holiday Patrols to Target Dangerous Drivers in Georgia

GSP Public Information Office
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(ATLANTA) – Georgia State Troopers and officers with the Motor Carrier Compliance and Capitol Police divisions of the Georgia Department of Public Safety are preparing for back-to-back 78-hour Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel periods.  Troopers and state officers are patrolling during the holiday periods and concentrating on dangerous drivers who pose a threat to traffic safety on Georgia roads.

Colonel Bill Hitchens, DPS Commissioner and State Patrol Commander, said the Christmas holiday travel period begins Friday, December 22 at 6 p.m. and continues until midnight Monday, December 25.  Traffic predictions from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Crash Reporting Unit and the Georgia State Patrol are for 2,212 traffic crashes, 1,001 injuries and 13 traffic deaths.  Last year, 11 people died on Georgia roads during a Christmas holiday period that was 78 hours long.  There were 2,280 crashes and 949 injuries recorded. 

The New Year’s holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, December 29 and ends at midnight Monday, January 1, 2007.  Estimates are for 2,500 traffic crashes, 1,152 injuries and 16 traffic deaths.  During the last New Year’s holiday period, which was also 78 hours long, Georgia recorded 2,424 crashes, 1,118 injuries and 15 fatalities.

Colonel Hitchens reminds motorists who plan to travel during the holiday periods to plan carefully.  “Choose a sober designated driver before partying or if you plan to drive, don’t drink,” he said.  “Our wish for the holiday season is safe travel for everyone.”  He emphasized that law enforcement officers will not hesitate to arrest an impaired driver or ticket anyone who jeopardizes the safety of the motoring public.  “Slow down, obey the posted speed limit, don’t drink and drive, wear your seat belt, and exercise courtesy toward fellow drivers,” Colonel Hitchens advises. 

Colonel Hitchens reminds everyone planning to travel with children during the holiday periods to make sure children are properly restrained.  “Children do not know they are at risk of serious injury or death in a traffic crash when they ride unrestrained,” he said.  “That is why adults must take the time to make sure children are properly restrained at all times in a motor vehicle.”

Georgia State Troopers along with MCCD and Capitol Police officers are participating in Operation Zero Tolerance now until New Year’s Day.  Zero Tolerance is Georgia’s high visibility impaired driving enforcement program where state, county and city law enforcement officers work together to intercept impaired drivers before they cause a traffic crash.

The highest number of Christmas holiday traffic period deaths occurred in 1971 when 36 people were killed, and the lowest occurred in 1982 and 2002 with five deaths.  For New Year’s, the highest occurred in 1981 and 1987 with 23 deaths, and the lowest occurred in 1947 and 1958 when Georgia recorded only three deaths.