Bad driving habits in severe rain could be deadly - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Bad driving habits in severe rain could be deadly

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Traffic fatalities are up in Georgia and Alabama, and with a record-breaking amount of travelers expected to hit the roads in the next few days, nasty weather could pose extra safety concerns.

"Slow down, buckle up, don't drink and drive, and keep this thing off...you can save yourself and others," said Col. Mark McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

We've all heard the basics, but are we really listening? Fresh statistics from law enforcement agencies in both Alabama and Georgia say the answer is no.

The Peach State has already seen 1,300 fatalities this year, and Alabama has zoomed past 500. With over a week of high holiday travel starting Tuesday, those numbers could climb. If you add in expected severe weather, you've got yourself a potentially dangerous situation.

"Just because the speed limit says 55 miles an hour, when I look at that, that's 55 miles an hour on a bright, sunny day," said McDonough as officials from Georgia met in Columbus Monday. The group is touring the state, trying to slow down those rising fatality numbers in the last few weeks of 2015.

Officials from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency say if you run into expected severe weather during holiday travel, you should find the nearest highway exit, and wait it out if visibility becomes extremely low. They say you should remember that the side of the road could be as dangerous as the slippery pavement.

Trooper Johnathan Appling with ALEA said, "I wouldn't suggest being, you know, sitting on the shoulder of the highway because if there's a crash, a crashed vehicle may strike your vehicle."

It's required by law to have your headlights on in the rain, but what about emergency flashers that many use? Troopers say it's a practice they see often and the legality of it is murky, but it could put you at further risk of an accident.

"Somebody may think you're a stranded motorist on the side of the road and they may change lanes inadvertently, and it may cause a situation," said Appling. 

Troopers also remind everyone to give themselves enough time to get home, as speeding or trucking through rough weather you really shouldn't be in could cost your life.

Georgia officials stress the severity of being cautious, saying that during the 2014 holiday travel period, there were 14 traffic deaths in only 102 hours from 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve to midnight on December 28.

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