Memorial Day Weekend to Kick Off Summer Travel Season

Georgia State Patrol
May 23, 2005


(ATLANTA)—The 2005 Memorial Day holiday weekend begins Friday at 6 p.m. and signals the beginning of the summer travel season across the nation.  The Georgia State Patrol is reminding motorists to plan their trips carefully and remember to make seat belt and child restraint use a priority.

      Colonel Bill Hitchens, Commander of the Georgia State Patrol, said Georgia State Troopers will be patrolling throughout the holiday weekend and cautioned drivers against drinking and driving.  “Memorial Day weekend is always a heavily traveled holiday period but sadly also one of the deadliest on our roadways,” he said.  Last year, 18 people died in traffic crashes on Georgia roads during the 78-hour holiday period.  There were 2,654 traffic crashes and 707 injuries recorded during the period.

      The 2005 holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 27 and ends at midnight Monday, May 30.  Traffic predictions from the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety are for 2,550 traffic crashes, 650 injuries and 17 traffic deaths.

      To increase the Georgia State Patrol’s presence on the highways, Colonel Hitchens said troopers assigned to administrative office duties will be assisting troopers in the field by patrolling on Friday and Monday of the holiday period.  “Traffic is always the heaviest on the first and last days of the holiday period and we want to make travel in Georgia as safe as possible,” he said.  “Allow yourself ample time to reach your destination and drive defensively.”

      Colonel Hitchens noted that almost 40 percent of the traffic deaths last Memorial Day weekend involved an alcohol or drug impaired driver.  “The majority of those killed were not wearing a seat belt, so our mission is clear,” Colonel Hitchens said.  “Through enforcement we will save lives and prevent serious injury.”

      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 27th year.

      The highest number of traffic deaths during the Memorial Day weekend was in 1969 when 27 people died in traffic crashes.  1969 was also the first year the Department of Public Safety began keeping statistics on the Memorial Day holiday period.  The lowest number was 10 in 1979.