Although the upcoming July 4 holiday period is only 30 hours long, the Georgia Department of Public Safety is reminding motorists who will be traveling to exercise caution and to make safety a priority. Col. Bill Hitchens, DPS Commissioner, said careful planning is the key to a enjoying a safe holiday.
This year, the July Fourth holiday period begins at 6 p.m. today and ends at midnight Wednesday. Traffic estimates from the Georgia State Patrol and the Crash Reporting Unit of the Georgia Department of Transportation are for 1,015 traffic crashes, 397 injuries and six traffic deaths across the state.
Last year, Georgia recorded 30 traffic deaths during a 78-hour long holiday period. There were 2,922 traffic crashes and 1,289 injuries reported. Col. Hitchens noted that 2001 was the last time there was a 30-hour July 4 holiday period and there were 1,183 traffic crashes, 321 injuries and four traffic deaths recorded.
Colonel Hitchens reminds drivers to exercise caution in holiday travels, no matter how short the trip may be. “Don’t drive if you have been consuming alcoholic beverages, check that everyone is wearing a safety belt, and avoid distractions inside your vehicle that can cause you to make a driving mistake,” he said.
Georgia State Troopers and officers with the DPS Motor Carrier Compliance Division as well as Capitol Police officers will be patrolling both days of the holiday period. Col. Hitchens said troopers will be watching for drunk drivers during their holiday patrols and reminded motorists that the Georgia State Patrol is participating in Operation Zero Tolerance, a statewide crackdown on impaired drivers by Georgia law enforcement.
He said troopers are teaming with local police officers and sheriffs’ deputies across the state for roadchecks and concentrated patrols during the two-week enforcement effort.
Col. Hitchens also noted that July is the anniversary of Georgia’s Star G-S-P program to report impaired drivers. He said the program began in 1994 and motorists have assisted law enforcement officers by reporting suspected impaired drivers through the free calls on their cell phones.
Motorists who dial Star G-S-P (*477) are connected to the nearest Georgia State Patrol post.
Troopers and DPS officers will also be participating in Operation CARE, or Combined Accident Reduction Effort. Law enforcement officers across the country and Canada work together during holiday periods to reduce the number of traffic deaths on the nation’s roads through high visibility patrols and education.
The highest number of July 4 holiday fatalities was in 1972 when 34 people were killed and the lowest was two in 1962 and again in 1984.