Thanksgiving weekend typically deadly on Georgia roads

Motorists advised to plan ahead, be patient before traveling

It’s the holiday dedicated to family, friends and food. But the Thanksgiving weekend is typically a deadly one on Georgia roads, which this year will be packed with even more travelers than normal, according to experts.

Since 2014, 80 people have died in crashes on state roadways during the Thanksgiving travel days, including 15 last year, according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety. Once again, law enforcement officers are gearing up for several busy travel days.

“Reducing traffic crashes, deterring and correcting bad driving behaviors, and making the roadways safer is our job,” Col. Mark W. McDonough, DPS commissioner, said. “To make this happen, troopers and motor carrier officers will be patrolling interstates and secondary roads throughout the state during this holiday period.”

It’s always a busy week for travel. But according to the auto service organization AAA, more than 55 million Americans plan to drive 50 miles or more for this Thanksgiving — the second-highest since the group began tracking travelers in 2000.

This year, 1.6 million additional travelers are expected to hit the roads compared with last year, according to AAA. Lower gas prices are one suspected reason.

Despite the increase of cars on the roads, state law enforcement leaders hope to put the brakes on the number of crashes.

In 2018, Georgia troopers investigated 610 traffic crashes that resulted in 242 injuries and 10 fatalities. Local police agencies investigated five other fatal crashes, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

In addition to the crash investigations, 339 people were arrested for driving under the influence, and 11,523 citations — including 500 for distracted driving — and 17,046 warnings were issued during the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday. In 2017, investigators tallied 627 traffic crashes that resulted in 294 injuries and 12 deaths.

Planning ahead can help travelers stay safe on the roads. The American Red Cross suggests making sure vehicles are in good condition, packing emergency supplies and driving only when rested and alert.

“Motorists should travel with patience and allow plenty of time to reach their destinations,” McDonough said. “In order to make traveling safer, drivers should be mindful and obey the posted speed limit, have every occupant in their vehicle properly retrained, and never drive distracted or impaired.”

SAFE TRAVELS

Tips to keep you and your family safe while traveling:

1. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition for a road trip.

2. Pack an emergency preparedness kit, supplies and a first aid kit in your vehicle.

3. Share travel plans with a relative or friend.

4. Check the weather before departing and along your route.

5. Be well rested and alert.

6. Buckle up, slow down and don’t drive impaired.

7. Follow the rules of the road.

8. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cellphones.

9. Make frequent stops and rotate drivers during long trips.

10. If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

Source: American Red Cross