From Staff Reports
COVINGTON — The experts at AAA say since retail gas prices are a bit lower than they were last year, Labor Day travel is expected to be up more than 4 percent, meaning more than 33 million Americans will take to the roads for the holiday which traditionally marks the end of the summer travel season.
The Georgia State Patrol is prepared for those who will travel Georgia roadways during the 78-hour Labor Day holiday travel period beginning at 6 p.m. Friday and ending at midnight Monday.
“Traffic over the Labor Day weekend is expected to be the heaviest of the three summer holiday periods this year,” said Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “This is the first weekend for regular season high school and college football games as well as special holiday events planned across the state that will all increase motor vehicle travel. We are also expecting more cars on the road south of Atlanta because of the activities at the Atlanta Motor Speedway,” he added.
McDonough said that troopers will be conducting road checks, high visibility patrols, and concentrated patrols in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies across the state during the holiday period watching for impaired drivers, seat belt use violators, and other traffic violations that could potentially cause a traffic crash.
“We want to make holiday travel as safe as possible,” he said, citing crashes and fatalities that occurred during last year’s Labor Day holiday. During the 2012 Labor Day weekend, the GSP investigated 387 traffic crashes that resulted in 286 injuries and seven traffic fatalities. Statewide last year, law enforcement officers reported 13 Labor Day weekend traffic deaths. In addition to the traffic crash investigations last year, troopers arrested 265 people for driving under the influence while issuing 5,713 citations and 13,187 warnings.
State troopers remind drivers to make safety a priority over the holiday weekend. “Make sure everyone is buckled up and that children are properly restrained. Don’t text and drive, obey the posted speed limit, and do not drive impaired. If you know that you will be consuming alcoholic beverages, plan ahead to have a designated driver,” the commissioner cautioned.
The GSP is also partnering with the “Bee a Buckler” Safety Program to encourage everyone to buckle up this weekend. Gov. Nathan Deal has proclaimed the Labor Day holiday weekend as “Bee a Buckler” Safe Driving Weekend in the state. In addition to urging everyone to buckle up, the program stresses other safe driving practices to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. The “Bee a Buckler” program was founded in 1969 by Jennie Glasgow of Sandy Springs and has been cited for its pioneering efforts as the first all-volunteer educational occupant safety program in the nation.
The Labor Day holiday period is also an Operation C.A.R.E. holiday where state law enforcement officers across the country join together for a concerted effort to encourage safe travel. The goal of Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, is to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roads by balancing high visibility enforcement with educational outreach.