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Heavy traffic expected in Georgia over Labor Day holiday

Local law enforcement, as well as Georgia State Patrol troopers, are preparing for a busy holiday day travel period and traffic is expected to be heavy as many citizens will take advantage of the long weekend to celebrate the end of summer. The holiday period begins today at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Labor Day.

Motorists are warned to exercise caution and adhere to all traffic laws. During the 2010 Labor Day travel period, 14 people were killed in traffic crashes, according to the Crash Reporting Unit of the Georgia Department of Transportation, which also recorded 2,580 crashes and 1,042 injuries during the 78-hour period.

The highest number of traffic fatalities for a Labor Day holiday weekend was in 1968 when 35 people died in traffic crashes and the lowest number occurred in 1939 and again in 1995 when seven fatalities were reported.

"Alcohol, speed and occupant protection violations are the primary contributing factors in fatal traffic crashes in our state," said Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

Troopers and local law enforcement will be heavily patrolling both the interstates and secondary roads over the weekend.

"Past experience has shown the majority of fatalities over a holiday weekend occur on the state routes, county roads and city streets," McDonough noted.

Operation Zero Tolerance, the national high visibility DUI enforcement program, is under way through Labor Day and motorists shoal expect to see troopers, motor carrier compliance officers as well as local law enforcement, setting up roadblocks on secondary roads in an effort to intercept impaired drivers.

The GSP is also partnering with the "Bee a Buckler" safety program to encourage everyone to buckle up over the Labor Day holiday and to practice other safe driving techniques.

Col. McDonough also reminds drivers to make sure their vehicles are in proper operating condition before beginning holiday travel by checking the belts, hoses, lights, tire pressure and fluid levels.

"Drivers should take every precaution to prevent being stranded on the road," he said. "Once on the road, be alert for potential dangers by obeying the posted speed limit, not tailgating, allowing plenty of space before merging in front of tractor trailers, using a designated driver if alcohol will be in your plans, making sure everyone is wearing a seat belt, and taking the time to properly restrain children in a motor vehicle."