GOHS, GSP remind drivers to buckle up and drive sober ahead of the year’s busiest holiday travel season and inclement weather
(ATLANTA) — This week signals the beginning of the busiest travel season of the year. The remaining 35 days of 2013 will see some of the highest traffic volumes ever as Georgians and Americans hit the road to celebrate the holidays. With cold and rainy weather in the forecast for most of the state this week, highway safety officials are reminding drivers to use caution, check tires and emergency kits and stay alert. Those traveling in the northern part of the state may have to keep an eye out for ice and winter weather as they go through the mountainous regions of Georgia.
Because the entire holiday season is one of the busiest travel periods of the year, the leading authority on highway safety, GOHS Director, Harris Blackwood joined Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Mark McDonough of the Georgia State Patrol to tour the state during the “Season for Safety” campaign. Law enforcement from all over Georgia and neighboring states teamed up with GSP and GOHS to remind drivers that the holiday season is no time to ride without a seatbelt or drive drunk.
While Georgia experienced fewer traffic deaths overall last year, the 2012 holiday season proved more dangerous for those on Georgia roads. Between Nov. 20 and Dec. 31 last year, there were 20 fatalities on Georgia roads. The number of holiday traffic deaths in 2012 was two-and-a-half times the number in 2011.
“The holiday season is a festive time of the year and a time to enjoy family and friends,” said Colonel Mark McDonough. “It is a time of goodwill, so be courteous to others as you travel in the weeks ahead. Slow down, buckle up, take time to buckle up children, and designate a sober driver if alcohol consumption will be in your plans.”
The “Season for Safety” is a campaign for safe driving, and highway safety officials will focus on the importance of seatbelt use and sober driving around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Why will drivers be reminded to Click it or Ticket? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seatbelts saved almost 12,000 lives nationwide in 2011. Further research shows that with proper seatbelt use, the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by 50 percent.
Such a simple step can save a life. During the 2011 Thanksgiving travel period, 249 people were killed in vehicle crashes nationwide. Half of those victims were not wearing a seatbelt.
“It’s a shame that we lose so many people who could have been saved by wearing a seatbelt,” Blackwood said. “We want holiday travelers to make it home to enjoy that piece of pumpkin pie, to watch their kids open gifts, to see the ball drop as they usher in the New Year. The message is simple: Buckle up – Every trip. Every time. And remember to drive sober or you’ll get pulled over. No warnings. No excuses.”
To spread the “Season for Safety” message, McDonough and Blackwood will depart for a statewide media tour on Nov. 26 and hit nearly all corners of the state. Their message stands to curb the number of traffic fatalities Georgia sees this time of year.
“The Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s travel periods are when we see motorists on the road in the highest numbers,” said Blackwood. “We want everyone to enjoy time with family and friends and return home safely. That begins with fastening seat belts, slowing down, driving sober and putting aside cell phones.”