GSP Steps Up Enforcement For Holiday Weekend

May 22, 2008

(ATLANTA)—Despite the record-high cost of gasoline across the state, the Georgia State Patrol and officers with the Department of Public Safety’s Motor Carrier Compliance Division and Capitol Police Services Unit are ready for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend.  Colonel Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said Wednesday the higher cost of gasoline may keep motorists closer to home this year.

      The Memorial Day holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at midnight Memorial Day.  The Crash Reporting Unit of the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia State Patrol anticipate more than 2,300 traffic crashes across the state during the 78-hour holiday period.  “Sadly, some of those crashes could result in fatalities,” Colonel Hitchens said.  Estimates are for as many as 19 traffic deaths this year.

      The Commissioner noted that even with gasoline prices at record levels motor vehicle travel could be heavy across the state as more people stay closer to home or take shorter trips.  “From an enforcement perspective, we anticipate heavy traffic Friday and Monday,” he noted.  “Troopers and DPS officers will be conducting roadchecks, high visibility patrols, and concentrated patrol efforts throughout the state with emphasis on our secondary routes.”

      Last year during the Memorial Day holiday period, there were 2,062 traffic crashes reported which resulted in 1,042 injuries and 10 deaths.  The number of traffic deaths last year matched 1979 for the lowest number of deaths for the Memorial Day holiday weekend since traffic stats were first recorded for the holiday in 1969.

      “While last year tied the record for the lowest number of deaths for Memorial Day, we must not forget that one of the highest number of deaths in recent years occurred in 2005 when 32 people lost their life in fatal traffic crashes,” Colonel Hitchens said.  “Our Georgia State Troopers, Motor Carrier Compliance and Capitol Police Officers will be on full patrol this holiday weekend in an effort to keep the number of crashes, injuries and deaths as low as possible.”

      Colonel Hitchens said troopers will be concentrating on the secondary roads as well as the interstate system.  He noted that the majority of the fatal crashes each year occur on state highways, county roads and city streets.  “The same holds true for a holiday period,” he said.  “Last year, eight of the 10 traffic deaths occurred on state routes and county roads, and two occurred on the interstates.”

      Troopers and officers will be concentrating on seat belt and child restraint violations in addition to drivers operating motor vehicles under the influence.  “Speed, a lack of occupant protection use, and an impaired driver make for a deadly combination on our roads,” Colonel Hitchens emphasized.

      The Georgia State Patrol is joining state highway patrol and state police agencies across the country and Canada this weekend for Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort.  The program encourages the safe operation of motor vehicles and increased seat belt use through education and enforcement.  The program is now in its 31st year.

      Colonel Hitchens reminds all drivers to buckle up this holiday weekend and remember to use a designated driver if the consumption of alcoholic beverages will be in your plans.  “Celebrate the holiday period responsibly and keep safety at the forefront of everything you will do,” he said.

      The Georgia State Patrol reminds motorists who spot possible impaired drivers to report them to the nearest Georgia State Patrol post by calling Star G-S-P (*477) on their cell phones.

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

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