As Georgia State Patrol troopers began their holiday weekend in full force on the roadways of southeast Georgia, some drivers were already feeling the sting of getting that first holiday ticket.
The GSP has not made any predictions concerning the upcoming holiday travel period, but urges all drivers to be extra cautious while on the roadway.
Sgt. Terry Thrift, post commander at Waycross, said Thursday the troopers will be extremely busy all weekend and through Jan. 1.
Troopers are looking for impaired drivers, speeders, anyone not wearing a seatbelt and parents who don’t have their children properly restrained.
The troopers will also be working closely with local law enforcement agencies in an effort to help prevent accidents, deaths and injuries.
The Christmas holiday weekend began Friday at 6 p.m. and will end at midnight Monday.
The New Year holiday travel period will officially begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 30, and end Monday, Jan. 2. Both weekends are 78 hours long.
Colonel Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said Georgia State Troopers will patrol during the holiday period in an effort to keep the number of traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities as low as possible.
“We know from past experience that speed, alcohol, and failing to use seat belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes,” he said. “Drivers traveling during the holidays should put safety first by wearing a seat belt, obeying the posted speed limit, avoiding distractions inside vehicles, and by being courteous to other drivers.”
Last year, both travel periods were 78-hours long. Troopers investigated 443 traffic crashes over the Christmas travel period that resulted in 242 injuries and six fatalities. During the New Year’s travel period, there were 412 crashes and 235 injuries reported. In addition, troopers investigated seven fatal crashes that resulted in ten fatalities.
During the Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel periods Georgia State Troopers will also be teaming up with law enforcement officials from across the state for “Operation Zero Tolerance,” a high visibility enforcement campaign, which targets impaired drivers.
“Enjoy the holidays, but if you drive impaired, you will go to jail,” said the commissioner.
During last year’s Christmas holiday period, 175 arrests were made for driving under the influence, and 329 people were arrested during the New Year’s holiday.
“If you know that you will be consuming alcoholic beverages, plan ahead to have a designated driver,” he added.