(ATLANTA)—State troopers across Georgia are preparing for the longest and deadliest holiday period on Georgia roads in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday traffic period.  GSP Commander Colonel George Ellis said state troopers will be concentrating on impaired drivers, speeders and occupant protection violations during the 102-hour holiday period that begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 24 and ends at midnight Sunday, November 28.

            Traffic predictions issued jointly by the Department of Motor Vehicle Safety and the Georgia State Patrol are for 3,470 traffic crashes, 934 injuries and 20 deaths on Georgia roads during the holiday period.  Last year in a similar 102-hour holiday period, 20 people died in traffic crashes across the state.  There were 3,437 crashes that resulted in 918 injuries.

            Colonel Ellis said lack of seat belt use was a major factor in half of the fatal crashes during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday period.  “Twelve of those killed were not wearing a seat belt or other safety equipment,” he said.  “It is highly unusual that no fatal crashes involved alcohol.”  Colonel Ellis pointed out that despite the fact alcohol was not a factor in the fatal traffic crashes last year, troopers across the state still arrested 220 people for driving under the influence.  Troopers also issued 13,886 traffic citations during the period.

            “Now through the end of the year is the period when we see a noticeable increase in the number of impaired drivers on our roads,” Colonel Ellis said.  “Troopers will be keeping a sharp eye out for impaired drivers.”  The GSP commander encourages motorists who see a suspected drunk driver to report the vehicle to the nearest Georgia State Patrol post by calling “Star G-S-P” (*477) on their cell phone.            

            Colonel Ellis said troopers will be working with local sheriffs’ deputies and police officers as part of Operation Zero Tolerance, Georgia’s high visibility enforcement program that targets impaired driving.  “Sobriety checkpoints and concentrated patrols will be conducted throughout the holiday period,” he said.  The Georgia State Patrol reminds motorists who will be on the roads during the holiday period to plan their trips carefully by allowing ample time to reach their destination, plan for rest stops along the way, obey the posted speed limit, don’t drink and drive, and make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained.

             The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is also an Operation C.A.R.E. holiday period.  Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, is a program of the International Association of Chiefs of Police designed to unite the law enforcement community across the United States and Canada in a campaign to reduce traffic deaths through high visibility enforcement and education.  The program is now in its 27th year.