Motorists all across Georgia are preparing for the unofficial end of summer by planning last minute trips to the lake, beach and everywhere in between. Law enforcement are likewise preparing as troopers, deputies and police officers across the state prepare for the annual Labor Day impaired driving campaign.
In Georgia, Operation Zero Tolerance will run in conjunction with the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7. That means whether you hit the road early or choose to celebrate on the holiday weekend, officers will be cracking down on impaired drivers with increased patrols, sobriety checkpoints and a high-visibility presence.
“Too many people think their actions don’t affect anybody else,” Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood said. “They know it’s illegal and they know it›s wrong. But they do it anyway and make decisions as if the statistics just can›t happen to them.”
And the statistics don›t lie. During last year’s Labor Day travel weekend, Georgia saw 15 traffic deaths and a further 1,218 injuries result from 3,706 crashes. It may seem like good news that these fatalities were down from 22 in 2013, but even one life lost is too many.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows Labor Day weekend is a dangerous holiday for driving nationwide. In 2013, 38 percent of fatalities during the holiday travel period involved drunk drivers, amounting to 161 lives lost. More than a quarter of those fatalities involved a driver with a blood alcohol at least twice the legal limit.
“School has already begun for most counties in Georgia and we don›t want the first holiday weekend to bring tragedy,” Blackwood said. “That›s why we choose to reinforce our zero tolerance for impaired driving on holiday weekends. Tragedy doesn›t take a holiday.”
Drunk driving is unfortunately a year-round problem that is taking the lives of both impaired drivers and innocent victims. In 2013, NHTSA shows 65 percent of people killed in impaired driving crashes were the drunk drivers themselves.
That means 6,515 drunk drivers lost their lives along with 3,561 additional victims.
There are, however, a few simple tips for ensuring a safe holiday weekend:
Plan a safe way home before you start festivities.
Designate a sober driver before you start drinking.
Program the numbers for taxi services or sober ride programs into your cell phone in case you or a friend unexpectedly need a sober ride home. Also consider public transportation.
Download the Drive Sober, Georgia app for a list of sober ride services in your area.
If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement immediately.
For more information on Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over or Operation Zero Tolerance, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.