Holiday traffic to remain steady in Bartow
by Mark Andrews
Dec 24, 2013 | 779 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
According to the National Weather Service’s website, www.weather.gov, Bartow County saw more than four inches of rain from Saturday to Monday during a flash flood watch, which held in effect until late Monday afternoon. While the service is predicting a sunny and clear Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, city and county officials, as well as state law enforcement, are reminding motorists to take caution when hitting the roads during the approaching holidays.

Bartow County Road Director Randy Gray on Monday said the only road in the county that remained shut down due to the weekend rain was Puckett Road in Emerson.

“We’ve had a few little isolated areas where the water is up to the crest of the roadway and the motorists need to be aware [of marked roads],” Gray said.

While the county is suspending projects over the holidays, the city of Cartersville said current road closings due to the Tennessee Street project will remain in effect and that current projects will continue next week.

“There’s a water project on East Cherokee Avenue, and if everything goes as planned, [the water department] will be doing work on Cherokee between Tennessee [Street] and Gilmer Street on Dec. 30 and 31,” Cartersville Stormwater Program Manager Wade Wilson said. “Forest Avenue has been shut down between Stonewall [Street] and Tennessee Street.”

While motorists are traveling common roadways, the GSP warns the department will increase its presence over the next two weeks.

According to information provided by Tracey Watson of the Georgia Department of Safety Office, the GSP worked 18 crashes, with a total of 11 injuries, in Bartow County between 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20 and 8 a.m. Monday. The GSP worked four crashes with zero injuries on the interstate during the same period.

Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said in a press release state troopers will be on patrols this holiday looking to spot impaired drivers and people not using seat belts.

The Christmas holiday travel period begins Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. and ends Christmas Day at midnight, the release states. The New Year’s holiday period begins New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. and ends New Year’s Day at midnight. Both holiday periods are 30 hours long.

According to the release, “Last year, troopers investigated 702 traffic crashes over the Christmas holiday period that resulted in 371 injuries and 11 fatalities. During the New Year’s period, four people were killed. There were 694 crashes and 353 injuries reported. Each holiday period last year was 102 hours.

“Statewide, law enforcement officers investigated a total 4,407 crashes that resulted in 1,476 injuries and 26 fatalities during the Christmas holiday period. Similarly, during the New Year’s holiday period 3,691 crashes that resulted in 1,164 injuries and 7 fatalities were reported. Troopers are cautioning drivers to plan for a sober designated driver if alcohol consumption will be part of the celebrations. During last year’s Christmas holiday period, 225 arrests were made by state troopers for driving under the influence, and 352 people were arrested during the New Year’s holiday.”

“This is a festive time of the year and we want everyone to enjoy the holiday season, but we also want everyone to be safe out on our roads,” McDonough said.

The holidays also are a mobilization period for Operation Zero Tolerance, during which Georgia State Troopers will be teaming up with law enforcement officials for high visibility enforcement patrols that target impaired drivers.

The Better Business Bureau has offered the following suggestions for those planning to hit the road this holiday season:

• Prepare your vehicle for long distance travel: Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road before you leave your home.

• Plan ahead: Before you get on a highway, know your exit by name and number, and watch the signs as you near the off-ramp. Drivers making unexpected lane changes to exit often cause accidents.

• Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.

• Check your emergency kit: Contents should include: battery-powered radio, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods, maps, tire repair kit and flares.

• Be aware of changes in weather: Weather conditions across the U.S. will be changing — especially during early mornings and evenings with the cold. Watch for ice, snow and other weather-related obstacles.

• Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving.

• Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early so you won’t be anxious about arriving late and to accommodate delays. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.

• Be aware of truck blind spots: When sharing the road with large trucks, be aware of their blind spots. If you can’t see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.

• Slow down: With the extra highway congestion due to holiday travel, speeding becomes even more dangerous. Allow plenty of space cushion and reduce your speed.

• Buckle up: Safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and are a simple way to increase your safety on the road.

• Take breaks every two to three hours or less: If you’re traveling alone or with family, make sure you make periodic stops along the way to stay alert and stretch. Christmas holiday season means busy roads and distractions. Taking a break from driving every so often will help you manage your stress and that of your passengers.

• Keep your cellphone charged and handy: Whenever you travel, especially during the busy Christmas holiday season, make sure your cellphone is charged and ready to go for your trip. If driving, make sure you check in during stops along the way with friends and loved ones at your destination. Of course, don’t use your cellphone while driving during your Christmas holiday road trip. According to the National Safety Council, more than 270 million people have cellphones in the United States today. Talking on the cellphone while driving increases your crash risk fourfold.

• Don’t advertise your trip or valuables: Please don’t post on Facebook or any other social media sites where you’re going and when! You will make yourself and your valuables a target for criminals.

• Keep map, GPS and directions handy: No need to get lost in transit this Christmas holiday travel season. Make sure you map out your trip in advance of departure, and keep this material close by during the drive. It’s also helpful to think about alternative routes if you expect to hit traffic or construction delays.