The 78-hour Labor Day holiday runs from 6 p.m. tonight to midnight Monday, and officials are preparing for a busy weekend.
This Labor Day holiday period is the first weekend for regular season high school and college football games, and holiday events are planned across the state. Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said all these events are expected to increase traffic.
“Traffic over the Labor Day weekend is expected to be the heaviest of the three summer holiday periods this year,” McDonough said in a news release Wednesday. “We are also expecting more cars on the road south of Atlanta because of the activities at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.”
Lt. Jay Baker, spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, said there were no fatalities last Labor Day, but the county had one in 2011.
“The Sheriff’s Office would like to urge motorists to refrain from driving while impaired and to always wear their seatbelts,” Baker said.
In 2012, the Georgia State Patrol recorded 13 fatalities across the state over the Labor Day holiday period, and McDonough said that troopers will conduct road checks, high visibility patrols and concentrated patrols across Georgia over the holiday.
“We want to make holiday travel as safe as possible,” McDonough said. “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 Georgia Department of Transportation will suspend construction-related lane closures on the interstates for the holiday, beginning at noon on Friday, through 5 a.m. on Tuesday.
Officials with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said last Labor Day weekend on Lake Allatoona saw no drownings, instances of operators Boating Under the Influence, injuries or fatalities.
But so far this year, the GDNR has recorded 11 boating incidents, 10 injuries, 1 fatality and 11 BUIs, according to Melissa Cummings, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
The GDNR Law Enforcement Division stressed the importance of safety for boat drivers and passengers, in a news release last week.
“While the Labor Day holiday weekend is not typically as busy as early and mid-summer holidays, there still is a need for increased safety awareness from all boaters,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver, in the release. “Conservation rangers will strictly enforce all boating laws in an effort to keep everyone safe, but we also encourage people to pay extra attention to others on the water.”
Statewide to-date, the GDNR has recorded 68 boating incidents, 52 boating injuries, 8 boating-incident-related fatalities and 22 drownings, and rangers have issued 140 BUI citations.
Officials urged boaters to designate a sober driver, and said that in 2013, Georgia law changed the BUI blood-alcohol content level down to a .08, matching the level for a DUI.
The GDNR reminded boaters that children under the age of 13 are required by law to wear a life jacket while on a moving vessel, and recommended that everyone wear a life jacket.
Officials also said that boaters should check the capacity for their boat and be sure to not overload it with weight or people, and use navigation lights while boating at night.
The 100-foot law applies to all vessels and prohibits moving at speeds above idle within 100 feet of another boat.