Traffic is expected to be heavy throughout the state during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday travel period and the Georgia State Patrol is asking motorists to make sure everyone is buckled up as they travel. Colonel Mark McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said the 78-hour holiday period begins Friday at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Memorial Day.
"This coming weekend, there are many graduations, festivals, holiday travelers, and family gatherings that will increase the volume of traffic on our highways," he said. "The extra traffic can also increase the chances of you being involved in a traffic crash." The commissioner noted that "Operation Click It or Ticket" is underway until June 3 with state troopers joining law enforcement officers across the country in a stepped up seat belt enforcement campaign. "We want you to be safe as you travel this holiday weekend," he added.
Last year during the Memorial Day holiday travel period, the Georgia State Patrol investigated 312 traffic crashes that resulted in 236 injuries and 13 traffic deaths. In the fatal crashes, three victims were motorcycle operators and one person killed was operating an all-terrain vehicle. Colonel McDonough noted alcohol was a contributing factor in six of the 13 fatalities, and eight of the nine people killed in either a passenger car or pickup truck were not wearing seat belts.
This Memorial Day weekend, the Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources will be stressing the importance of not driving or boating under the influence. "Past experience has shown that warm weather and outdoor recreational activities can lead to an increase in the number of impaired drivers behind the wheel," he said. "The goal of our partnership with the Department of Natural Resources is to keep you safe whether you are on the roads or on the water."
The Memorial Day holiday weekend is also an Operation C.A.R.E. holiday period. Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, is a program sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for state law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and Canada in a campaign to reduce traffic deaths through high visibility enforcement and education. This year is the program's 35th anniversary.
The highest number of traffic deaths on Georgia roads during the Memorial Day holiday weekend occurred in 2005 when 32 people were killed in holiday crashes. The lowest number was recorded in 1979 when 10 fatalities were reported.
Authorities began keeping statistics on Memorial Day weekend travel in 1969.