Following 13 reported traffic fatalities over the Thanksgiving holiday period, the Georgia State Patrol and Bartow County Sheriff's Office have announced they will be on the roads to help enforce safety rules and traffic laws.
"Safety is a main goal," GSP Post 3 Commander Kyle Tanner said. "We're focusing on making sure child safety seats are installed correctly."
The BCSO echoed that concern, saying there will be safety checkpoints conducted throughout December and patrols will be concentrated in some areas.
According to the GSP, troopers will be enforcing the safety belt law that has recently been amended to include pick-up trucks as well as reminding drivers to plan trips carefully by allowing enough time to reach destinations. Planning for rest stops, obeying the posted speed limits and not drinking after consuming alcoholic beverages are tips to help drivers remain safe during holiday travels.
Distractions are another main concern for law enforcement.
"Cell phones are a big one," Tanner said, noting that all distractions are dangerous. "Just hang up the phone when you get in the car. If you need to answer or send a text, pull over."
A news release from the BCSO says that patrol division deputies will be "aggressively patrolling for alcohol or drug impaired drivers during this potentially dangerous time of year to be on the roadways."
Cartersville Police also will be on alert through the holiday and continuing safety measures through the New Year weekend.
"We are taking several steps during the holiday season to help ensure the safety of the public," CPD Lt. Mark Camp said. "We will be keeping close watch in the business areas during shopping hours for any unusual activity. In addition, we will have some random license checkpoints between now and the new year. With an increase in holiday traffic volume, traffic enforcement will also be a priority for us."
According to data reported to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the National Automotive sampling, in 2009, there were 30,797 fatal crashes in the United States, which involved 45,230 drivers. In those crashes 33,808 people died. Of those total deaths that same year, 5,474 people were killed due to driver distraction. Those fatalities equal to 16 percent of all accident fatalities for 2009.
For the 30 to 39-year-old age group involved in fatal crashes due to distraction, 24 percent reported they were distracted due to cell phone use. Of the 1.5 million injury crashes in 2009, 20 percent involved distractions of some kind.
The Cartersville Fire Department also stresses the importance of decreasing distractions, as they are often times among the first to arrive on scene and offer assistance to accident victims.
"Most of the tragedies we see are caused by accidents with distractions," CFD Chief Scott Carter said. "Especially with cell phones and texting, drivers need an extra vigilance. This time of year people are distracted by shopping and driving abilities may be inhibited. They need to remember it is against the law to drink and drive. We hate to see tragedies, especially this time of year."
In a GSP news release, Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said, "Reducing the number of crashes involving speed, alcohol and seat belt violations will save many lives each year. ... That's why we patrol -- to save lives."