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Posted: September 3, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Troopers prepare for busy holiday weekend

The Georgia State Patrol is reminding drivers not to get behind the wheel impaired during the upcoming Labor Day holiday travel period. Troopers and officers with the Motor Carrier Compliance Division will be working alongside sheriff’s deputies and police officers in an effort to keep the holiday weekend as safe as possible.

The 78-hour Labor Day holiday travel period begins Friday, September 3 at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Labor Day. During the 2009 Labor Day holiday period, there were 1,917 traffic crashes reported that resulted in 867 injuries and 15 traffic deaths in Georgia, according to holiday statistics compiled by the Crash Reporting Unit at the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Colonel Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said increased patrols for impaired drivers will be conducted during the holiday period.

"Last year there were no alcohol-related traffic deaths reported over the Labor Day holiday period," he said, "and one of the deaths involved a drug-impaired driver."

Since August 20, troopers and officers have participated in Operation Zero Tolerance across Georgia as part of a nationwide mobilization against impaired drivers. The Labor Day campaign will conclude at midnight Labor Day.

Hitchens said a variety of events scheduled during the Labor Day holiday period will increase motor vehicle travel in Georgia, including high school football games across the state, college games on Saturday, and a full series of events at Atlanta Motor Speedway throughout the weekend.

If you will be traveling during the Labor Day holiday period, Hitchens reminds drivers to plan trips carefully and allow plenty of time to reach your destination. He also urged drivers to check the condition of their vehicle by inspecting the belts, hoses, and fluid levels, and to pay special attention to the condition of the tires. "The heat this summer has taken a toll on tires," he noted. "Troopers have investigated several crashes, some that resulted in fatalities, where tires have blown causing the driver to lose control."

The highest number of traffic deaths recorded over a Labor Day holiday period was in 1968 when 35 traffic deaths were reported, and the lowest occurred in 1939 and 1995 with seven fatalities. Over the last seven years, the Georgia Department of Transportation reports 13,897 total crashes during the Labor Day holiday period with a total of 6,700 injuries and 120 traffic deaths.

The holiday period is also an Operation C.A.R.E. weekend. C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, is a traffic safety initiative of state highway patrols and state police agencies across the United States and Canada. Sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Operation C.A.R.E. unites state law enforcement in a campaign to keep the number of holiday period traffic deaths as low as possible through high visibility enforcement and education.

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