Suspension of road work a nice holiday gift

Your trip to see loved ones may have gotten a little easier this holiday season.

The Georgia Department of Transportation announced it will restrict road closures from 5 a.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Monday and again from 5 a.m. Dec. 31 to 5 a.m. Jan. 2.

GDOT said it "aims to ease statewide traffic congestion and improve traffic safety with the suspension of construction-related lane closures" on highways, major state routes and roads near major shopping and tourist areas.

Despite no closures, motorists are advised to expect higher than normal traffic during the holiday season. The holiday travel period is expected to begin at 6 p.m. Friday and end at midnight Monday. A second holiday period is expected to begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 30 and end at midnight Jan. 2.

Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, warned drivers to take precautions.

"We know from past experience that speed, alcohol and failing to use seat belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes," McDonough said in a news release. โ€œDrivers traveling during the holidays should put safety first by wearing a seat belt, obeying the posted speed limit, avoiding distractions inside vehicles, and by being courteous to other drivers."

Last year, Georgia State Patrol troopers investigated 443 traffic crashes over the holiday travel period that resulted in 242 injuries and six deaths. During the New Year's travel period, troopers investigated 412 crashes that resulted in 235 injuries and 10 deaths.

Troopers will also work with multiple police agencies across the state on "Operation Zero Tolerance," which targets drunk drivers.

"Enjoy the holidays, but if you drive impaired, you will go to jail," McDonough said. "If you know that you will be consuming alcoholic beverages, plan ahead to have a designated driver."

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