Georgia State Patrol to Have More Troopers on Patrol for Labor Day

August 28, 2008
(ATLANTA) - As motorists take to the roads for the Labor Day holiday travel period, there will be more Georgia State Troopers patrolling Georgia highways.  The additional troopers are the 49 graduates of the 85th Georgia State Patrol Trooper School who took their oath of office last Friday.  The additional troopers will report for duty Friday, August 29, the first day of the holiday travel period.
   The Labor Day holiday travel period begins at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at midnight Monday, September 1.  During the 78-hour period, traffic estimates from the Georgia State Patrol and the Crash Reporting Unit at the Georgia Department of Transportation are for 1,898 traffic crashes, 901 injuries and 16 traffic deaths on Georgia roads.  Last year during a similar 78-hour period, there were 2,150 crashes, 1,048 injuries and 12 traffic deaths in 11 fatal crashes.
   Colonel Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said Thursday the additional troopers will report to their duty stations Friday ready to patrol.  He explained that the troopers completed their field training during Trooper School at their newly assigned patrol post so they are familiar with the areas they will patrol.  "This allows us to put more troopers on the road patrolling quicker," he noted.
   Colonel Hitchens said State Troopers and Officers with the Department's Motor Carrier Compliance Division and Capitol Police Services Unit will be patrolling throughout the weekend.  He said the enforcement personnel will be watching for impaired drivers, speeders, people not wearing seat belts, and people who do not properly restrain children.  "These violations are the ones officers see repeatedly when investigating traffic crashes, especially ones which result in a traffic death," Colonel Hitchens said.  "Last year, four of the 12 deaths over the Labor Day holiday period involved an alcohol or drug impaired driver, and four of the 12 people killed were not wearing seat belts." 
   The Commissioner said Georgia State Troopers will be patrolling the secondary roads as well as the interstates throughout the holiday period.  "Past experience has shown the majority of the fatalities over a holiday weekend occur on the state routes, county roads, and city streets," he noted.  Troopers and Motor Carrier Compliance Officers will be conducting road checks and concentrated patrols on the secondary roads in an effort to intercept dangerous drivers before they can cause a traffic crash.  Colonel Hitchens said last Labor Day there were six fatalities recorded on state highways with three occurring on county roads, two on the interstates and one on a city street, according to the DOT crash data.
   The Labor Day holiday period is traditionally the end of the summer travel season and the start of high school and college football seasons.  Traffic is expected to be heavy throughout the weekend across the state as gasoline prices have fallen since the Memorial Day holiday weekend.  "With the increase in travel expected for the holiday weekend, drivers should be prepared and plan ahead," he said.  "Planning begins with safety at the top of the list." 
   Colonel Hitchens reminds drivers to make sure their vehicle is in proper operating condition before beginning holiday travel by checking the belts, hoses, lights, tire pressure, and fluid levels.  "Drivers should take every precaution to minimize the chance of being stranded on the road," he said.  "Once on the road, be alert for potential dangers by obeying the posted speed limit, not tailgating, allowing plenty of space before merging in front of tractor trailers, using a designated driver if alcohol will be in your plans, making sure everyone is wearing a seat belt, and taking the time to properly restrain children in a motor vehicle." 
   Drivers are reminded they can report suspected impaired drivers by calling Star G-S-P (*477) on their cell phones to be connected to the nearest Georgia State Patrol post.  "Drivers who use Star G-S-P are extra eyes on the road to help law enforcement officers save lives," Colonel Hitchens said.  He also reminded drivers involved in traffic crashes of Georgia's "Steer It and Clear It" law that requires drivers involved in crashes where the vehicles are drivable and there are no apparent serious injuries or death, to move their vehicle from the roadway.  
   The Labor Day holiday period is also an Operation C.A.R.E. holiday where state law enforcement officers across the country join together for a concerted effort to encourage safe travel.  Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, combines high visibility enforcement with educational outreach to reduce the number of traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities across the country.
   The highest number of traffic fatalities for a Labor Day holiday period occurred in 1968 when 35 people died in traffic crashes and the lowest occurred in 1939 and 1995 when seven deaths were recorded.  The Georgia State Patrol will update the holiday traffic experience at throughout the holiday weekend.
Contact Information: 
DPS Public Information Office - (404) 624-7597