Motorists are reminded to be cautious while traveling this Fourth of July weekend. State troopers, including Tifton's Post 13, are preparing for a busy holiday travel period.
According to the Georgia State Patrol, the holiday period is 78 hours long, beginning at 6 tonight and ending at midnight Sunday. During this period, troopers will be conducting concentrated patrols and road checks throughout the state.
SFC Brian Gay, Tifton's post commander, said his troopers will be concentrating on impaired drivers, seat belt and child restraint violations and speeders. He said they will also be focusing on violators of the Move-Over Law. According to the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety, the Move-Over Law says drivers must move over for emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the highway. The law is meant to keep officers and traffic violators safe from crashes with passing cars.
Right now, more than 30 states have Move-Over Laws on the books, with fines that range as high as $1,000 or more in some jurisdictions. The Move-Over fine in Georgia is an “attention-getting” $500. However, failure to obey the Move-Over Law can lead to consequences far more serious than fines.
"If you see an emergency vehicle, get over if you can," says Gay.
Last year, the Fourth of July holiday period was 102 hours long. GSP investigated 1,150 traffic crashes that resulted in 564 injuries and five deaths. Additionally, troopers issued 9,849 citations, 18,477 warnings and made 359 driving under the influence arrests.
For Tifton's post, troopers investigated 13 crashes that resulted in five injuries and no deaths last year, according to a past Gazette article. Troopers made 379 vehicle stops and six DUI arrests. They also issued 97 total citations and 521 warnings and assisted five motorists. Post 13’s area of enforcement includes Tift, Cook and Berrien counties.
State troopers remind drivers to exercise caution in holiday travels, no matter how short the trip may be.
Gay said when going out to any parties or events where there may be alcohol, those who engage in drinking should have a designated driver. He said the consequences of being caught drinking and driving can lead to possible jail time and suspension of your license.
"Call someone you know or a cab. It's not worth it, especially those under 21, because it doesn't take much. It can change your life plans forever," he said.
Gay added for those traveling, make sure to check your vehicle, such as the tires being inflated properly and that the tread is good on them.
"Be an attentive driver and allow yourself ample time to get to where you're going. Traffic will be heavy. Don't be in a hurry," he said.
"Obey the posted speed limit, check that everyone is wearing a seat belt and avoid distractions inside your vehicle," says Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. "Careful planning is the key to a safe holiday weekend. Keep safety a priority."
He also reminds motorists that GSP is participating in Operation Zero Tolerance, a nationwide crackdown on impaired drivers by law enforcement. He said troopers will be teaming up with local police officers and sheriffs' deputies across the state for road checks during the holiday weekend.
GSP will also be participating in Operation CARE (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 Fourth of July holiday fatalities was in 1972 when 34 people were killed. The lowest was two deaths in 1962, 1984 and 2012.
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.