ATLANTA – Motorists should designate a sober driver and not let friends drive after drinking during what is expected to be a busy 102-hour New Year’s holiday travel period, the Georgia State Patrol said.
Bill Hitchens, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said the New Year’s holiday travel period begins New Year’s Eve at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Jan. 4.
Traffic estimates for the period from the Georgia State Patrol and the Crash Reporting Unit at the Georgia Department of Transportation are for 3,008 traffic crashes, 1,350 injuries, and 20 traffic fatalities statewide. During the last New Year’s holiday travel period, which was also 102 hours, there were 3,108 traffic crashes, 1,250 injuries and 22 traffic deaths recorded.
Hitchens said speed, the lack of seat belt use, and people driving while impaired continue to be the primary contributing factors to fatal holiday period traffic crashes, and the majority of the fatal crashes occur on the secondary roads. He said Georgia State Troopers will patrol state highways in addition to the interstate system and county roads. “Last year, 12 of the 22 traffic deaths occurred on county roads while four each occurred on state routes and city streets,” Hitchens noted. “Only two deaths were recorded on an interstate highway in Georgia.”
Hitchens said in addition to concentrated patrols during the holiday period, troopers will also conduct sobriety checkpoints.
“While only two of the traffic deaths last year were alcohol related, New Year’s is traditionally associated with festivities that often involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages,” he said, “and tragically that leads to an increase in the number of impaired drivers on our roads.”
Hitchens said motorists need to take extra safety measures.
“Remember to plan ahead for your holiday parties and plan non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers,” he said. “Everyone can benefit by remembering to not let friends drive drunk.”
He reminded party hosts to arrange alternate transportation for impaired guests by calling a taxi, friend or family member to get your guest home safely.