Georgia traffic fatalities could increase for first time since 2005

Warning that annual traffic fatalities are poised to increase in 2012 for the first time in several years, state highway safety officials were crisscrossing Georgia Tuesday to urge motorists to drive safely during the upcoming holiday travel periods.

According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, 1,013 people died in wrecks from Jan. 1 this year through Nov. 15.

“Already, we have surpassed where we were this time last year and we have not even entered the holiday season, our busiest traffic period of the year,” said Harris Blackwood, director of GOHS.

Georgia’s annual traffic fatality total decreased annually from 2005, when 1,745 people died in crashes, through 2011, when 1,226 fatalities were tallied.

“Fatal crashes frequently involve speed, an impaired driver, or the victim not being properly restrained, and sometimes it is any combination of these contributing circumstances,” said Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

“Wearing your seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to ensure you and your passengers arrive safely to your family’s Thanksgiving celebration,” McDonough said.

Law enforcement officials across the state will be participating in the national “Click-it or Ticket” campaign during this week’s Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

Nearly half of the people killed on Georgia’s roads so far this year were not wearing seat belts, GOHS spokeswoman Katie Fallon said.