Memorial Day Holiday Weekend News Release

May 23, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEWS RELEASE

BUSY HOLIDAY WEEKEND AHEAD FOR GEORGIA OFFICERS

(ATLANTA)—Heavy traffic from a variety of events around the state this upcoming Memorial Day weekend will keep law enforcement officers across Georgia busy as they patrol to keep the state’s roads safe.  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 units are preparing for full patrols during the peak travel times over the 78-hour holiday period.

      Colonel Hitchens said traffic will be heavy throughout the weekend as graduation ceremonies, festivals and vacation travelers will add to the normal weekend traffic.  Travelers in some parts of the state may also experience periodic traffic delays due to visibility problems from wildfires burning in South Georgia and North Florida.  “Earlier this month, traffic was detoured off Interstate 75 north of the Florida line on a Saturday,” he said.  “Troopers will monitor visibility in the affected areas throughout the weekend in partnership with the Department of Transportation and provide whatever assistance may be required to ensure traffic safety.”

      The Memorial Day holiday weekend begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 25 and ends at midnight Memorial Day.  Traffic estimates from the Crash Reporting Unit of the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia State Patrol are for 2,235 traffic crashes, 989 injuries and 18 traffic deaths on Georgia roads.  Colonel Hitchens reminds drivers to exercise caution this holiday weekend while they travel.  “Last year, 17 people died on our roads during the holiday weekend, including eight deaths that were alcohol-related and nine of the 17 victims were not wearing seat belts or other safety equipment,” he said.  “Our troopers and officers will be on patrol this weekend to try and prevent this from occurring again this year.  It is all about saving lives.”

      Last year, Georgia recorded 2,103 traffic crashes that resulted in 1,062 injuries in addition to the 17 deaths.  Colonel Hitchens said troopers will not only be patrolling the interstates but the secondary roads as well.  “Last year, there were no interstate fatalities recorded during the holiday period, but nine of the deaths were on state highways, six on county roads and two on city streets.”

      The Commissioner encourages everyone who will be traveling, to always use their seat belt and take the time to make sure children are properly restrained at all times.  “This is All-American Buckle-Up Week across the country and state highway patrols and state police agencies are concentrating on getting the message out that seat belt use saves lives,” he said. 

      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 sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for state law enforcement agencies 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 30th year.

      Operation Click It or Ticket is also underway across the nation.  Law enforcement officers are working together by conducting road checks and concentrated patrols to enforce occupant protection laws.   

      The Georgia State Patrol is calling on motorists to plan their trips carefully and allow for frequent stops on extended trips.  “Make sure you are alert behind the wheel at all times and immediately make a rest stop the moment you begin to feel drowsy,” Colonel Hitchens said.  “We want everyone to enjoy the holiday weekend and remember its purpose, but please take the necessary precautions to avoid serious injury or death while you travel.  Always buckle-up, remember to properly restrain children, obey the posted speed limit and don’t drive if you have consumed alcohol.”  Additionally Colonel Hitchens asked motorists to be considerate of other drivers and be patient while behind the wheel.

      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 when 10 people were killed.  The Crash Reporting Unit began keeping statistics on Memorial Day travel in 1969.

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Contact Information: 
DPS Public Information Office