Officials prepare for heavy holiday traffic
by Michelle Babcock
November 26, 2013 11:55 PM | 778 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Public safety officials are urging drivers to be safe during the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday, which are expected to cause heavy traffic on highways and local roads.

Lt. Jay Baker, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said that officials are expecting heavy traffic and congestion over the next few days.

“The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is traditionally a high traffic weekend. That is not only true for interstate traffic but also for local traffic,” Baker said. “Expect congestion on the roads around shopping areas on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

The Thanksgiving holiday period begins Wednesday at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight on Sunday.

Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said that traffic is expected to be heavy so drivers should plan carefully, allowing plenty of time to reach their destination.

“Anticipate traffic delays due to volume or a crash that blocks travel lanes,” McDonough said. “Also, be prepared should rain make driving conditions hazardous.”

McDonough said Georgia State Troopers will be ramping up patrols over the holiday period in an effort to minimize crashes, injuries and fatalities.

“We know from past experience that speed, alcohol and failing to use seat belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes,” he said.

Baker agreed, and urged motorists to wear their seatbelts, obey all traffic laws and avoid driving while impaired.

As residents head out this holiday weekend for shopping, Baker advised everyone to use caution.

“If you are shopping, please remember to place your valuables in the trunk of your vehicle and don’t leave them within view,” he said.

Last holiday period, Baker said that the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office recorded four DUIs, 19 accidents with three injuries and one fatality.

GSP spokesperson Tracey Watson said in Cherokee County during last year’s holiday period, troopers reported two crashes with one fatality and one injury, two arrests for DUI, 69 citations and 225 warnings.

Statewide, troopers reported 682 crashes during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday period, resulting in 380 injuries and 11 fatalities, Watson said.

State Troopers made 352 DUI arrests last year during the holiday period, and McDonough said they will be watching for impaired drivers this week.

“Make sure everyone is buckled up and that children are properly restrained. Don’t text and drive, obey the posted speed limit and do not drive impaired. If you know that you will be consuming alcoholic beverages, plan ahead to have a designated driver,” McDonough said. “Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, but also know that if you drive impaired, you will go to jail and your vehicle will be impounded.”

Statewide, law enforcement officers investigated a total of 3,590 wrecks, resulting in 1,161 in-juries and 21 fatalities.

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