@White=[C] GSP increases patrols for holiday weekend
by By Mark Andrews, mark.andrews@daily-tribune.com
Aug 31, 2012 | 1256 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Georgia State Patrol will be in full force across the state this Labor Day weekend and Sgt. Kyle Tanner says one of the best way to avoid accidents — and costly tickets — is simply to slow down.

“A lot of people get in a hurry around the holidays from point A to point B. Another thing we tell everybody is to buckle up; I know some people are still not used to buckling up, especially in pick-up trucks. We like to get that message out because [seat belts] do help restrain you in an accident,” Tanner said, adding the state patrol also will be on the lookout for impaired drivers. “I know a lot of people like to party around the holidays and that’s fine, as long as you stay at your house or get yourself a designated driver.”

Nine people were killed last Labor Day Weekend, according to crash statistics from the Crash Reporting Unit at the Georgia Department of Transportation. During the 78-hour holiday period, there were 2,370 traffic crashes and 942 injuries also reported. Of those numbers, the Georgia State Patrol investigated 426 crashes with 313 injuries and four fatalities.

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 number was recorded in 1939 and again in 1995 with seven fatalities each.

Operation Zero Tolerance, the nation’s high visibility DUI enforcement program, also is under way now through the end of the Labor Day holiday period. Troopers and motor carrier compliance officers are conducting road checks and concentrated patrols on the secondary roads in an effort to intercept impaired drivers before they can cause a traffic crash.

To aid with the increased numbers of drivers on the state’s roads, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced all scheduled and ongoing construction-related lane closures in northwest Georgia will be suspended for the weekend, beginning at noon today and extending to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4.

“The only exception would be for emergency maintenance work in the case of traffic accidents and other unpredictable types of transportation incidents,” DeWayne Comer, district engineer at the Georgia DOT in Cartersville, said in a press release. “We understand that a lot of people are hitting the road for the Labor Day holiday and we would like to make it a little easier for them to go through Northwest Georgia.”

Col. Mike McDonough suggests drivers make sure their vehicle is suited for the road and are prepared for travels.

“Drivers should take every precaution to prevent being stranded on the road,” McDonough said in a press release. “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.”

The GSP also is partnering with the “Bee a Buckler” Safety Program to encourage everyone to buckle up this weekend. Gov. Nathan Deal has proclaimed the Labor Day holiday weekend as “Bee a Buckler” Safe Driving Weekend in the state.

In addition to urging everyone to buckle up, the program stresses other safe driving practices to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. The “Bee a Buckler” program was founded in 1969 by Jennie Glasgow of Sandy Springs and has been cited for its pioneering efforts as the first all-volunteer educational occupant safety program in the nation.

Labor Day weekend is considered a C.A.R.E. holiday where state law enforcement officers across the country join together for a concerted effort to encourage safe travel. The goal of Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, is to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roads by balancing high visibility enforcement with educational outreach.

Georgia DOT urges travelers to call 511 for updated information about this or any other construction project on interstates and state routes.

Georgia 511 is a free phone service that provides real-time traffic and travel information statewide, such as traffic conditions, incidents, lane closures and delays due to inclement weather. Callers also can transfer to operators to request assistance or report incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More information is available at www.511ga.org.