(ATLANTA) As Georgians pack-up their cars for the first big vacation trip of the summer, they face a set of sobering crash predictions for the Memorial Day holiday ahead. The Georgia State Patrol estimates as many as 2,725 traffic crashes resulting in 875 injuries and 18 traffic deaths could occur within just a 78-hour travel period on Georgia roadways this weekend.
"It's a fact, there are more crashes during the summer travel months, due in part to the increased vacation traffic volume," says Director Bob Dallas of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). "But most of these crashes aren't just random events caused by too many cars navigating through too much congestion. The Georgia State Patrol reports alcohol and the lack of safety belt use were the primary contributing factors in a majority of the fatal crashes they investigated during the Memorial Day Holiday last year."
During the 2008 Memorial Day period, there were 2,480 traffic crashes, 721 injuries and 12 fatal crashes resulting in 14 traffic deaths in Georgia. The Georgia State Patrol investigated eight of those 12 fatal crashes, finding alcohol was a factor in five of the traffic deaths and a drug-impaired driver was noted in another fatal crash. Investigating Troopers found four of the victims were not restrained by safety belts! (Other fatal crashes reported during Memorial Day 2008 involved a motorcycle, a four-wheeler, and a pedestrian).
"The holiday fatality stats show why we encourage Georgia law enforcement to conduct stepped-up high-visibility speed, DUI, and safetybelt enforcement campaigns during these travel periods," says GOHS Director Dallas. "Our studies also show there are more safetybelt violations and DUI's after dark. That's another reason GOHS coordinates so many seatbelt and sobriety checkpoints at night."
- The Governor's Office of Highway Safety urges drivers to use extra caution during the Memorial Day driving period beginning this Friday, May 22 at 6PM and ends at midnight, Memorial Day, May 25. GOHS says motorists should be prepared to encounter high-visibility Click It Or Ticket safety belt checkpoints throughout the holiday weekend as part of the Memorial Day mobilization. Visit www.gahighwaysafety for more about seatbelts.
- The Georgia Department of Transportation (G-DOT) is advising motorists to expect delays, plan ahead and be patient during a very busy travel weekend ahead. G-DOT predicts heavier than normal traffic congestion on Thursday and Friday, with rush hour beginning as early as 1:00 p.m. in high-volume areas. Motorists can call 511 on any phone for current road conditions and free, real-time traffic information.
- The Georgia State Patrol advises travelers to make sure drivers and passengers are all properly restrained, to designate a sober driver if alcohol consumption is in the holiday plans, and for that driver to obey the posted speed limit. GSP reminds motorists to make a cell phone call to Star G-S-P (*477) to report drunk drivers.
"But even with all this predicted police enforcement activity, the most important highway safety survival fact we can share this Memorial Day weekend is that everyone's best defense against an unexpected crash with a drunk driver is a buckled safety belt," says GOHS Director Bob Dallas. "More than 70-percent of drivers and passengers involved in serious crashes nationwide survived when wearing safety belts correctly in 2008. There's no question. Safety belts are among the most important lifesaving inventions of our time. No other every-day device saves lives faster or as often as your safety belt," says Dallas.