Traffic is expected to be heavy on Georgia roads throughout the holiday weekend and Georgia State Patrol will be on the watch for the Thanksgiving holiday travel period that begins Wednesday evening.
Colonel Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said Georgia State Troopers will patrol during the holiday period in an effort to keep the number of traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities as low as possible.
“We know from past experience that speed, alcohol, and failing to use seat belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes,” he said. “By conducting concentrated patrols or holding roadchecks across the state, troopers, deputies and officers can intercept violators before they are involved in a serious traffic crash.”
The holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 21 and ends at midnight Sunday, November 25. Last year during a similar 102-hour period, the Georgia State Patrol investigated 466 traffic crashes across the state that resulted in 303 injuries and 13 fatalities. Colonel McDonough said that of the 11 fatal crashes investigated by state troopers, four of the crashes involved motorcycles and two of the traffic victims were pedestrians. Four of the fatalities traveling in passenger cars and trucks were not restrained, and two of the fatal crashes involved alcohol.
The holiday period is also part of the nationwide mobilization of Operation Click It or Ticket. Law enforcement officers across the United States are concentrating on seat belt and child restraint violations throughout the holiday period in an effort to save lives. “Seat belts save lives and in a crash keep you from being thrown from the vehicle,” Colonel McDonough said. “Please take the time to put your seat belt on and be sure that children are properly restrained as well.”
The Commissioner added that troopers will also be watching for impaired drivers during holiday patrols. He noted the Thanksgiving holiday period is also a time when impaired drivers fail to heed the warnings to choose a designated driver. “Enjoy the holiday period, but also know that if you are driving under the influence, you will go to jail and your vehicle will be impounded on the spot.”
The Georgia State Patrol reminds motorists to plan their travels carefully and allow plenty of time to reach destinations. “Anticipate traffic delays due to volume or a crash that blocks travel lanes,” Colonel McDonough said. “Also, be prepared should rain make driving conditions hazardous.”
The Thanksgiving 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 of the nation’s highway patrols that promotes safe driving on interstate highways during the holiday periods. This is the 35th year of Operation C.A.R.E., sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The program’s goal is to reduce traffic deaths through high visibility enforcement and education across the United States and Canada.
The highest number of traffic deaths ever recorded for the Thanksgiving holiday period was 43 in 1969 and the lowest was four in 1949.
Move Over Law
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is also strongly recommending that all Georgia motorists re-familiarize themselves with the state’s Move Over Law after a Henry County police officer was struck and killed by a hit and run driver while assisting a stranded motorist. Two Carrollton officers were also struck earlier this month while investigating a crash.
What is the Move Over Law? In effect since 2003, it requires drivers to move over one lane, if possible, whenever an emergency vehicle on the side of the road displays its lights. If traffic is too congested to move over safely, the law requires drivers to slow down below the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.
Legislation allows local judges to set Move Over Law violation fines as high as five-hundred-dollars to help modify careless driver behavior.
“Georgia’s Move Over Law was enacted to protect our first responders as they go about performing their life-saving duties alongside our roads,” said Colonel Mark W McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “For the safety of everyone – first responders, other drivers, victims and towing personnel – drivers should remain alert while driving and move over when approaching a flashing emergency light. If you can’t move over, then slow down well below the posted speed limit and be prepared for a sudden stop.
More travelers are expected to be on the road this Thanksgiving, even though gas prices are higher this year than it was last year at this time.
“Overall, we believe more Americans will be hitting the road for this Thanksgiving Day compared to last year. Gasoline prices have come down over the last month, dramatically in some states, leading motorists to feel better about things- including driving the car to get to their destinations, ” said Gregg Laskoski, an analyst with GasBuddy.com.
GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan is estimating that the national average will sit at $3.43 per gallon on Thanksgiving, some 10 cents higher than it was in 2011. In Atlanta, gasoline prices currently stand at an average of $3.25/g, compared to last Thanksgiving, when prices stood at an average of $3.19/g.
Results from a poll of over 15,000 GasBuddy households showed most notably, fewer people said they would be driving less - 18 percent of respondents, which is a drop of 4 percent from the previous poll. About 16 percent of respondents indicated they would not me driving at all for holiday gatherings, up from 15 percent last year. About 53 percent indicated they would be driving a similar amount compared to last year, up from 50 percent the year before. Overall, 8 percent of those surveyed said they would be driving slightly or significantly more than last year, down from 9 percent a year ago. The results of the poll indicate that drivers drove more last year, and are planning similar travels this year, as gasoline prices have trended lower.