Law enforcement steps up traffic watch

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- Local law enforcement agencies are teaming up this week with the Georgia State Patrol to keep the highways and byways safe for holiday travelers.

Officials say heavy travel is anticipated during the 102-hour Thanksgiving holiday travel period and are asking that drivers exercise caution, especially for the time frame beginning today through midnight Sunday.

Troopers, police and sheriff's deputies will be especially vigilant in watching for impaired drivers, seat belt and child safety seat violations, as well as speeders.

Last year, 13 people died in traffic crashes on Georgia roads during the Thanksgiving holiday period. The Georgia Department of Transportation reported 2,348 traffic crashes across the state that resulted in 888 injuries. According to the Crash Reporting Unit at GDOT, none of the fatal crashes was alcohol or drug-related, although at least four victims were not wearing seat belts.

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety reminds that the Click It or Ticket campaign has become a Thanksgiving tradition and this year is no exception. Director of Public Affairs Jim Shuler gives the following three reasons Georgians should click their seat belts:

* In 2008, nationwide and in Georgia, more than 50 percent of all traffic crash victims killed during Thanksgiving travel had this one thing in common. They didn't wear a seat belt.

* Low safety belt use makes Thanksgiving holiday travel everywhere one of the deadliest, most dangerous times of the year for everyone to drive.

* For those who think, "it just can't happen to me," no one expected to be involved in the violent holiday crashes that occurred here 2,348 times in just four days.

"For safety's sake, both drivers and their passengers should be buckled up every trip, every seat, every time," Shuler said.

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. The program, sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, is now in its 33rd year with a goal of reducing traffic deaths through high visibility enforcement combined with education throughout the United States and Canada.

Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety Col. Bill Hitches reminds motorists to plan their travels carefully and allow plenty of time to reach destinations.

"Anticipate travel delays, and be prepared should rain make driving conditions hazardous," he cautioned.

Also, motorists are reminded of Georgia's "Steer It and Clear It" law that requires drivers involved in crashes with no apparent serious personal injury or death to move the vehicles out of the traffic lanes if the vehicles are drivable.