State troopers: put safety first this July 4th holiday weekend

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, June 30, 2016

ATLANTA — The July Fourth holiday travel period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, July 1, and ends at midnight on Monday. State troopers are preparing for full patrols during the peak travel times, said Col.  Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
The Georgia State Patrol encourages everyone to celebrate the July 4th holiday responsibly. Troopers will be conducting road checks and high visibility patrols across the state during the holiday period watching for impaired drivers, seat belt use violators, and other traffic violations that could potentially cause a traffic crash.
Last year during a similar travel period, troopers investigated 554 traffic crashes over the July 4th weekend that resulted in 277 injuries, and four traffic fatalities. In addition to the traffic crash investigations, troopers arrested 343 people for driving under the influence while issuing 8,666 citations and 13,730 warnings.
This holiday period, the Georgia State Patrol is participating in the Operation Zero Tolerance campaign, a nationwide mobilization against impaired drivers. State troopers will be working alongside sheriffs’ deputies and police officers to apprehend impaired drivers. Driving impaired is a serious crime. “If you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested,” said McDonough.
As you gather this weekend with family and friends to celebrate our country s independence, make safety a priority. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you travel:
• Wear your seat belt. Make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled up before you hit the road, no matter how short the trip.
• Obey the speed limit. Exceeding the speed limit reduces the amount of available time needed to avoid a crash.
• Avoid distracted driving. Refrain from performing any activity that may take your focus off of the road, such as texting while driving.
• Be courteous to other drivers. Stay alert of your surroundings and show common courtesy to other motorists and pedestrians on the roads.
• Properly install child safety seats. Georgia law requires children under the age of eight to be in either a car seat or booster seat suitable for their age and height.
• Do not leave children and pets in hot cars. Get in the habit of regularly checking the back seat and back floor area for children and animals, each time you exit your vehicle.
From July 1-4, the Georgia State Patrol will also be participating in Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort. This is a nationwide traffic safety initiative among state highway patrols and state police agencies where troopers and officers across the United States and Canada work together during holiday periods to reduce the number of traffic deaths through high visibility patrols and education.
The highest number of July 4th holiday fatalities was in 1972, when 34 people were killed.
The lowest was two killed in 1962, 1984, and 2012.
The holiday traffic count will be updated throughout the holiday period on the Georgia Department of Public Safety Twitter page: