Authorities urge safety
Drivers cautioned when traveling this weekend

COVINGTON - The Governor's Office for Highway Safety is cautioning motorists who will be crowding onto the roadways this Memorial Day weekend to remember that the majority of fatal crashes occur on state highways and county roads, not the interstates.

"To illustrate this point, eight of the 10 traffic deaths last Memorial Day occurred on state routes and county roads, while two occurred on interstates," Director of Public Affairs Jim Shuler said in a printed statement. "And crash investigators can usually narrow the cause of these fatal crashes down to three common factors: unlawful speed and unbelted or impaired drivers."

Last Memorial Day saw the lowest numbers of deaths for the Memorial Day

holiday weekend since 1979. Even so, there were 2,062 traffic crashes reported resulting in 1,042 injuries and 10 fatalities.

Predictions for this year's 78-hour travel period are that there will be 2,300 traffic crashes resulting in 1,262 injuries and 19 traffic deaths.

The official holiday traffic period began at 6 p.m. Friday and will continue through midnight Monday.

Motorists can expect increased traffic enforcement from both local and state law enforcement. The Memorial Day holiday launches Georgia's Click It Or Ticket safety belt checkpoint campaign, as well as 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T., which targets speed and aggressive driving.

GOHS Director Bob Dallas advises Georgia motorist to slow down, pointing out that besides getting you a ticket, speeding wastes gas. Fuel efficiency rapidly decreases at speeds over 60 mph. And every 5 mph over 60 is like paying an extra 20 cents a gallon at the pump, according to the GOHS release.

"Speeding can lower your gas mileage by 5 percent around town and as much as 33 percent at highway speeds," Dallas said. "Driving at the speed limit saves gas. We already know it saves lives. Why not do both this holiday?"

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com