More traffic, intoxicated drivers expected for Labor Day weekend

by Wes Mayer

For the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend, which is one of the most traveled weekends of the year, Georgia State Patrol troopers will be making every effort to reduce traffic accidents.

“Our goal is to make holiday travel as safe as possible,” said Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, in a press release. “Troopers will be on concentrated and high visibility patrols watching for those who are driving impaired or distracted, not wearing seat belts and other traffic violations.”

According to the Georgia State Patrol, during the Labor Day holiday travel period, which begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and ends at midnight on Labor Day, GSP troopers investigated 650 traffic crashes last year. Of these crashes, 338 people were injured and 10 others lost their lives. Troopers issued more than 8,600 citations and more than 15,200 warnings last year during the same time period.

The Georgia State Patrol will also be teaming up with local law enforcement for Operation Zero Tolerance during the holiday weekend. This involves setting up road checks across Georgia to target and arrest impaired drivers and tow their vehicles.

“Troopers and officers will not hesitate to arrest an impaired driver and tow the vehicle,” McDonough said. “Choose a designated driver.”

According to a press release from AAA, nearly 35 million Americans are expected to travel during the Labor Day weekend, and about 86 percent of these travelers are expected to travel by car. In Georgia alone, AAA estimates there will be almost 850,000 drivers on the road.

“Labor Day travel is forecast to finish the summer with a bang,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman with AAA, in a press release. “Gas prices are down and consumer spending is up, which should help generate the most travelers since the record setting 45 million in 2008.”

Historically, whenever the Labor Day weekend begins in August, Americans are more likely to travel, according to AAA, but the number of people killed in drunk driving accidents during the Labor Day weekend also increases. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, throughout the year, someone is killed in a drunk driving accident every 51 minutes – during the Labor Day holiday, a person is killed in a drunk driving accident every 34 minutes.

Because of this, AAA is offering its Tow to Go service from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 in coordination with Anheuser-Busch. With Tow to Go, anyone – even non-members of AAA – in Georgia, Tennessee and Florida may dial 855-2-TOW-2-GO or 855-286-9246, and an employee of AAA will safely transport anyone and their vehicle home or somewhere safe within 10 miles. According to AAA, Tow to Go has helped more than 23,000 intoxicated drivers get off the road and safely home since the program was started in 1998.

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