Georgia State Patrol is gearing up for the holiday travel period with extra patrols in an effort to reduce the amount of traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities, said Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
“We know from past experience that speed, alcohol and failing to use seat belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes,” McDonough said. “By conducting concentrated patrols or holding road checks across the state, troopers, deputies and officers can intercept violators before they are involved in a serious traffic crash.”
GSP is also looking to remind motorists to plan their travels carefully and allow plenty of time to reach destinations.
“Anticipate traffic delays due to volume or a crash that blocks travel lanes,” McDonough said.
Locally, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office will be out looking for impaired drivers and seatbelt violations, spokesman Lt. Jay Baker said.
“Generally, we will focus on major intersections and locations where multiple accidents have happened in the past during the holidays,” Baker said
Canton Police Chief Robert Merchant said his department is doing a selective enforcement program Friday, where officers will be out in select areas enforcing traffic laws.
“As a result, there will be higher visibility of police, specifically on Highway 20 along with Highway 5,” Merchant said. “We’ve had some issues with orderly movement of traffic in and around that area. Our main focus will be on those main connectors.”
Capt. Mike Carswell with Holly Springs Police Department said there will be no additional patrols during the week.
Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said his department will step up directed patrols especially in retail areas, with additional officers on foot and on bicycles as well as normal vehicle patrols.
“We only want to ensure they have a safe and happy Thanksgiving,” Moss said.
Moss also encouraged citizens to lock their vehicles and remove valuables and Black Friday purchases from view before parking in parking lots or even in front of their homes.
“It removes the possibility that an opportunity may remove valuables from your car,” Moss said.
Moss said his department received some reports of similar auto thefts during the holiday shopping period last year.
“I think all throughout metro Atlanta that is an ongoing challenge,” Moss said.
The holiday period begins at 6 p.m. today and ends at midnight Sunday.
In both Canton and Woodstock, pleasant temperatures and sunny skies are anticipated throughout the weekend, with highs in the mid-60s and lows in the 40s. Saturday will be partly sunny and cooler with lows in the 30s and highs in the mid-50s.
During holiday period last year, GSP investigated 466 traffic crashes across the state that resulted in 303 injuries and 12 fatalities.
Of the 11 fatal crashes investigated by state troopers, four of the crashes involved motorcycles and two of the traffic victims were pedestrians, McDonough said.
“Four of the fatalities traveling in passenger cars and trucks were not restrained, and two of the fatal crashes involved alcohol,” McDonough said.
Nationwide, officers will be participating in Operation Click It or Ticket, concentrating on seat belt and child restrain violations in an effort to save lives.
“Seat belts save lives and in a crash keep you from being thrown from the vehicle,” McDonough said. “Please take the time to put your seat belt on and be sure that children are properly restrained as well.”
Additionally, troopers will watch for impaired drivers, as Thanksgiving is a time when drivers under the influence often fail to choose a designated driver.
“Enjoy the holiday period, but also know that if you are driving under the influence, you will go to jail and your vehicle will be impounded on the spot,” McDonough said.
The highest number of traffic deaths ever recorded for the Thanksgiving holiday period was 43 in 1969 and the lowest was four in 1949.