(ATLANTA)—The Georgia Department of Public Safety is reminding drivers to use extra caution this Memorial Day weekend as traffic is expected to be heavy on Georgia roads. Traffic estimates from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Crash Reporting Unit and the Georgia State Patrol are for 18 traffic deaths, 2,401 traffic crashes and 1,012 injuries during the 78-hour holiday period that begins Friday, May 26 at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight, Memorial Day.
Colonel Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said Georgia State Troopers and officers from the Department’s Motor Carrier Compliance and Capitol Police divisions will be patrolling throughout the holiday weekend and cautioned drivers against drinking and driving. “Last year, Georgia experienced a record number of traffic deaths for the Memorial Day weekend,” he said. “We will have every available trooper and officer on patrol during the heaviest travel periods of the weekend targeting impaired drivers, occupant protection violations and aggressive drivers.”
Colonel Hitchens said troopers and state officers will be patrolling not only the interstates but secondary roads as well. “Last year, Georgia experienced 32 traffic deaths during the holiday period and 22 of those deaths occurred on the state highways and county roads,” he said. “Our goal is to intercept dangerous drivers before they can cause a fatal crash.”
Last year, Georgia recorded 2,469 traffic crashes during the holiday period. There were 1,216 injuries reported in addition to the record-setting 32 traffic deaths. The previous record for traffic deaths over the Memorial Day weekend was 27 that occurred in 1969, the first year traffic statistics were kept for the holiday weekend. Colonel Hitchens pointed to an unusually high number of multi-fatal crashes during the holiday period that included one crash that resulted in five traffic deaths, one crash with three deaths, and five other crashes with two deaths each.
Colonel Hitchens noted that 16 out of 28 people who died in cars or trucks during the 2005 holiday period were not wearing seat belts. Three people died in motorcycle crashes and one fatality was a pedestrian. “Statistics have proven that seat belts save lives and prevent serious injuries,” he said. “That is why our troopers and officers will be strictly enforcing Georgia’s primary seat belt and child restraint laws.”
The Memorial Day holiday weekend is also an Operation C.A.R.E. holiday period. Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, is a program of the International Association of Chiefs of Police designed to unite the law enforcement community across the United States and Canada in a campaign to reduce traffic deaths through high visibility enforcement and education. The program is now in its 29th year.