Update: At midnight on Saturday, May 27, the Georgia Department of Public Safety reported 7 fatalities on Georgia roads so far during the 2023 Memorial Day Travel period. The first fatality was worked by Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office overnight Friday/Saturday. No fatalities have been reported in Walton County at this time.
(ATLANTA) – The Memorial Day holiday weekend kicks-off the beginning of the busy summer travel season across Georgia and the nation. As motorists begin making travel arrangements, the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) reminds drivers to plan their trips carefully and to remember to make safety a priority.
This year’s holiday travel period begins Friday, May 26, at 6:00 p.m., and ends Monday, May 29, at 11:59 p.m. Troopers will be on high-visibility patrols keeping an eye out for impaired drivers and other traffic violations that could potentially cause a crash.
“We want to ensure motorists make this Memorial Day weekend travel period as safe as possible,” said Colonel Chris Wright, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “We encourage drivers to observe the posted speed limit, don’t drive distracted or under the influence, and to remember to make seat belt and child safety restraint use a priority.”
During the 2022 Memorial Day holiday, Troopers issued more than 10,200 citations, made more than 330 DUI arrests, and investigated nearly 400 crashes that resulted in over 240 injuries and 10 fatalities.
The highest number of traffic deaths during a Memorial Day holiday weekend occurred in 1969, when 27 people died in traffic crashes. 1969 was also the first year the Department of Public Safety (DPS) began keeping statistics on the Memorial Day holiday period.
DPS will update the holiday traffic count on its website at http://dps.georgia.gov, and on all social media platforms throughout the holiday weekend.
DPS wants everyone to arrive safely to their destinations. Here are some travel tips to keep you and your loved ones safe as you travel this weekend.
- Observe the posted speed limit. When you exceed the speed limit, you reduce the amount of time needed to avoid a traffic crash.
- Observe all traffic laws and signals. Traffic laws and signals exist for your safety; failure to obey them can result in crashes that may seriously injure or kill you or others.
- Do not drive impaired. Designate a sober driver, call a taxi, rideshare service, friend, or family member to get you home safely.
- Make sure everyone in the vehicle wears a seatbelt. Also, properly install child safety seats. Georgia law requires children under the age of eight to be in either a car seat or booster seat suitable for their age, weight, and height.
- Show common courtesy to other motorists and pedestrians on the roads. Be mindful of your fellow motorists, especially the most vulnerable, pedestrians and cyclists. Stop at all stop signs, traffic signals and crosswalks, and check your blind spots.
- Pay attention to large trucks and buses. Leave extra space when merging in front of these large vehicles, anticipate wide turns, stay a safe distance back, signal clearly when merging in front of, or passing, and be patient.
- Do not drive distracted. Refrain from performing any activity that may take your focus off the road, such as texting while driving. On July 1, 2018, the Hands-Free Georgia Act became effective. It prohibits all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. A link to the complete law can be found on the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety website at www.gahighwaysafety.org.
In addition to safe driving practices, ensure your vehicle is prepared for holiday travel:
- Are your lights shining bright? Make sure all the lights are working properly, including high and low beams, flashers, directional signals, brake lights, and the license plate light.
- Wipe away your troubles. Now is a good time to replace your wiper blades. Many auto parts stores will install for free while you wait.
- Windshield washer fluid. Road trips can require a lot of washer fluid to keep the windshield clear. Keep a gallon in the trunk, just in case!
- Keep the engine in top condition. Check the radiator and heater hoses for cracks and leaks. Generally, the antifreeze mix should be flushed at least every two years.
- Check the battery. All batteries lose strength as they age, so don’t take any chances. Many auto-parts stores or repair shops will check your battery for free.
- Pump up the pressure. Underinflated tires cause unsafe handling and braking. Check the pressure in all your tires once a month and before any trip.
- Be prepared. Have a few basics along in case you do have trouble, including a charger for your cell phone, flashlight, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, warning light or flares, jumper cables, and the proper clothing including a hat and gloves.
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