The July Fourth holiday travel period will begin at 6 p.m. today and end at midnight on Monday with a large volume of traffic anticipated on the highways of the area.
Sgt. Terry Thrift, Waycross GSP post commander, reminds everyone that the state patrol will have a “heavy presence” on all of the roads of Ware and surrounding counties over the four-day holiday period and will be looking for impaired drivers in hopes of preventing accidents, injuries and deaths.
“It’s going to be a long hot weekend,” said Thrift. “We just caution everyone to buckle their seatbelts, don’t exceed the speed limit and do NOT drink and drive.”
Thrift said the local GSP post, which serves all of Ware, Pierce, Brantley, Charlton, Clinch and Bacon counties, will patrol the roads heavily and will be watching for drivers who may be in a diminished state of alertness.
At least 90 percent of the post troopers will be on the roads this weekend at some point in time, Thrift said.
Officials in Atlanta say troopers all over the state have been put on a state of readiness.
“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 4 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 4 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 sheriff’s deputies and police officers in local jurisdictions to apprehend impaired drivers.
Driving impaired is a serious crime, the GSP said.
“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, said McDonough.
He urges everyone to keep the following safety tips in mind:
•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.
Today through Monday the Georgia State Patrol will also be participating in Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, said McDonough. It’s 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 4 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: