Police ready for long, busy holiday weekend

By Ed Brock

One thing Georgia drivers should be thankful for after this weekend is that they arrive safely at their various holiday destinations.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Safety about 2,798 people across the state may not be so lucky. That's the predicted number of traffic accidents expected to occur in the 102-hour Thanksgiving holiday period.

The Department of Public Safety and the Georgia State Patrol are also foreseeing 1,238 injuries and 13 deaths to occur on the roads between 6 p.m. Wednesday and midnight Sunday. Last year during the Thanksgiving holiday there were 3,115 crashes resulting in 1,233 injuries and 9 deaths.

“Six of those killed were not wearing a seat belt or other safety equipment,” said Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. “Two of the deaths involved an impaired driver.”

In an effort to keep that deadly prediction from coming true state troopers and officers with local agencies will be out in force looking for drunk drivers, speeders and other traffic offenders. That will be part of Operation CARE, or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, an effort by the International Association of Chiefs of Police to unite law enforcement across the nation and Canada in reducing traffic fatalities.

The troopers will be looking out for impaired drivers especially and Hitchens is asking other drivers to help keep an eye out for them as well.

“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,” Hitchens said. “The Thanksgiving holiday period traditionally begins the Christmas party season and the potential to encounter an impaired driver on the roads.”

Clayton County police will be doing their usual “Click It or Ticket” routine, said Capt. Tom Israel.

“We'll be doing various road checks and saturation patrols,” Israel said.

Police in Morrow, home of Southlake Mall and the retail sales center of the county, are getting ready for Thanksgiving and for “Black Friday,” the year's busiest shopping day.

“We have staff in place to handle the extra crowds,” Morrow Police Chief Charlie Sewell said.

And once again Sewell reminds drivers not to block the intersections in between traffic signals or they could get a ticket.

“When people block the intersection it makes traffic worse for everybody,” Sewell said.

AAA Auto Club South is predicting 1,037,408 people will be driving in Georgia this weekend. The auto club is also offering its “Tow-to-Go” service for people who feel they cannot drive because they had too much holiday cheer.

Adults who are in no condition to drive home can call 1-800-AAA-HELP and AAA will dispatch a tow truck and take both the driver and the vehicle home, free of charge.