The 78-hour July Fourth holiday travel period begins Friday at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Monday, July 4.
Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said Georgia state troopers will be watching for impaired drivers, speeders, and people not using safety belts during holiday patrols.
Last year the Georgia Department of Transportation's crash reporting unit counted 1,829 traffic crashes, 834 injuries and 11 traffic deaths during the July Fourth holiday travel period. The Georgia State Patrol investigated 300 of the traffic crashes that covered a Thursday evening through Sunday night time period. Troopers reported nine traffic deaths and 209 injuries in the crashes they investigated. Two of the fatal crashes were alcohol-related and three of the fatal crash victims in passenger cars or pickup trucks were not wearing a safety belt.
The highest number of July Fourth holiday traffic fatalities occurred in 1972 when 34 people were killed in traffic crashes. The lowest occurred in 1962 and 1984 when two people were killed.
Col. Hitchens said troopers and officers with the department's motor carrier compliance division (MCCD) will be patrolling during the holiday weekend with a goal of keeping the holiday traffic count as low as possible.
“Our troopers and MCCD Officers will be concentrating on the most common violations identified as contributing factors in fatal traffic crashes," he said.
Operation Zero Tolerance, Georgia's high-visibility impaired driving enforcement program, is also continuing this week across Georgia in conjunction with the nationwide mobilization on drunk driving. Troopers and MCCD officers are joining local police officers and sheriffs' deputies in a concentrated effort to keep Georgia roads as safe as possible by removing impaired drivers from behind the wheel before they are involved in a traffic crash. Enforcement personnel will be conducting safety checks and concentrated patrols across the state now through the end of the holiday period.
The July Fourth holiday weekend is also an Operation CARE weekend. Operation CARE, or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, encourages safe driving through high visibility enforcement of traffic laws and public education efforts. The program among state highway patrols and state police agencies is now in its 34th year and is sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Hitchens also reminds drivers who will be transporting children this weekend to make sure everyone is properly restrained. He noted that a change in Georgia's booster seat law is effective Friday, July 1, and requires children under age 8 to be secured in an approved car seat or booster seat. More information on the booster seat law is available at gahighwaysafety.org.