The 78-hour Labor Day holiday travel period begins this Friday evening at 6 p.m., and traffic on Georgia roads is expected to be heavy. Colonel Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said a number of local events across the state will contribute to make for a busy holiday period.
The holiday period runs until midnight Labor Day, Sept. 7, and traffic estimates from the Georgia State Patrol and the Crash Reporting Unit at the Georgia Department of Transportation are for 1,725 traffic crashes, 975 injuries and 18 traffic deaths. Last year, during the 78-hour holiday period, there were 1,660 traffic crashes reported across the state that resulted in 798 injuries and 19 fatalities.
Colonel Hitchens said troopers from the Georgia State Patrol and officers with the Motor Carrier Compliance and Capitol Police divisions of the Georgia Department of Public Safety will be concentrating on seat belt and child restraint violations as well as impaired drivers.
"During the 2008 Labor Day holiday travel period, there were 19 traffic fatalities, and 76 percent of the people killed in car crashes had no safety equipment in use," Colonel Hitchens said. "Additionally, four of the traffic deaths were alcohol-related." The 19 traffic deaths included two motorcyclists.
The Labor Day holiday period will end the two-week national mobilization of "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." Since August 21, law enforcement officers across the country have been concentrating on impaired drivers in an effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths. "The message is simple: if you drive impaired, you will be arrested and taken to jail," Colonel Hitchens said. "Plan your holiday festivities carefully and be sure to include a designated driver if alcohol consumption will be in your plans."
The commissioner reminds motorists they may report suspected impaired drivers to the nearest Georgia State Patrol post by calling Star G-S-P (*477) from their cell phones.
Colonel Hitchens also reminds drivers to plan their holiday travels carefully as well. "Labor Day weekend is the end of the summer travel season but also the first full weekend of college football games," he said. "Additionally, motorists should be prepared for increased traffic as NASCAR fans gather for weekend races at Atlanta Motor Speedway."
The Labor Day travel period is also an Operation C.A.R.E. holiday period. Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, is a program of the International Association of Chiefs of Police that unites state highway patrols across the nation and Canada. The program’s goal is to reduce traffic deaths through high visibility enforcement and education.
The highest number of traffic deaths recorded over a Labor Day holiday period was in 1968 when 35 people were killed and the lowest occurred in 1939 and 1995 with seven.