Safety, designated drivers urged for holiday

by Sarah Fay Campbell

 By Sarah Fay Campbell sarah@newnan.com

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer, and that means travel, cookouts, boating – and DUIs.

Those who plan on drinking are urged to choose a designated driver – both on the roads and on the water.

"Enjoy your time with family and friends as we remember those who died fighting for our freedom," said Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. "As you travel, remember to always buckle up, properly restrain children, watch your speed, avoid distractions inside your vehicle, and use a designated driver if alcohol consumption will be part of your festivities.”

Memorial Day marks the start of the 100 deadliest days for teenage drivers, according to AAA. Studies also show that risky behaviors, such as not using seat belts, using alcohol, speeding, and late night driving, are more prevalent when teen drivers have other teens in the car, as opposed to when they are driving alone.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is partnering with state and local agencies to add an impaired driving message to its Memorial Day Click It or Ticket Campaign.

“We’ve got our Department of Natural Resources partners on the water and our Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement partners on the road,” said GOHS Director Harris Blackwood. “No matter where you choose to celebrate this Memorial Day weekend, if you’re drunk behind the wheel, your home for the night will likely be in a jail cell.”

Those who find themselves in the position of not having a safe ride home are urged to take advantage of the Tow to Go program, sponsored by AAA and Bud Light.

Anyone in the designated service areas, which include metro-Atlanta, can call Tow to Go for a safe ride home for you and your vehicle, from May 23 to 26. Vehicles will be towed within a 10-mile radius to a safe location. You do not have to be an AAA member.

“The Tow to Go program is an effective way to promote the use of designated drivers and help prevent drunk driving,” said Kathy Casso, vice president of corporate social responsibility for Anheuser-Busch. “We’re proud to partner with AAA and their roadside assistance drivers to help keep our roads safe.”

Call 855-2-TOW-2-GO (855-286-9246). Since its inception in 1998, Tow to Go has safely removed more than 23,000 intoxicated drivers from the roads. It’s designed to be used as a last resort and is offered based on availability of AAA drivers and tow trucks during times of high call volume.

The Memorial Day Click It or Ticket Campaign is being launched in conjunction with the 100 Days of Summer HEAT driving initiative.

For the first time in five years, the number of crash deaths of those who were not properly restrained in seat belts has gone up nationwide. In 2012, seat belts saved an estimated 12,174 people from dying, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, but 10,335 unbuckled motorists lost their lives.

To help out those traveling for the holiday, the Georgia Department of Transportation is suspending most construction-related lane closures on state and federal highways until Tuesday. Motorists are urged to still proceed cautiously in construction zones as equipment may still be in close proximity to travel lanes.

Atlanta-area gas prices are holding steady, with the Atlanta average down 0.9 cents over the past week, and 1.3 cents from a month ago, according to AAA’s fuelgaugereport.com website.

Travelers will see lower prices in most areas of Georgia, with the exception of the Athens and Savannah areas. Prices in Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina are significantly lower than Georgia prices, while North Carolina and Florida prices are nearly identical to Georgia prices.



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