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Drivers advised to be careful during holiday travel

By Mehgaan Jones

mjones@news-daily.com

The Georgia State Patrol is asking drivers to use caution as they travel during this Thanksgiving holiday period.

"Last year, 13 people died in traffic crashes on Georgia roads, during the 102-hour holiday period," officials of the Georgia State Patrol said in a media advisory.

The heavy travel anticipated for the upcoming holiday began Wednesday, and ends Sunday, Nov. 28, at midnight, officials said.

"During the past five years, 95 people have been killed in traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period. There have been 15,490 traffic crashes reported that have resulted in 6,225 injuries," the official statement added.

Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said that Georgia State Troopers, and officers with the Department of Public Safety Motor Carrier Compliance Division, will be watching for impaired drivers, occupant-protection violations and speed violations on the state's roads.

Hitchens explained that the Thanksgiving holiday period is a time when impaired drivers often fail to heed the warning to choose a designated driver. He said traffic backups and inclement weather can also create problems. "Anticipate travel delays, and be prepared should rain make driving conditions hazardous," he added, noting that motorists should plan their travels carefully and allow plenty of time to reach their destinations.

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is also a part of Operation C.A.R.E. The Combined Accident Reduction Effort is a program of the nation's highway patrols that promotes safe driving on interstate highways during holiday periods.

According to officials, the program, sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, is now in its 33rd year, with a goal of reducing traffic deaths through high-visibility enforcement efforts, combined with education, throughout the United States and Canada.

"Troopers and MCCD [Motor Carrier Compliance Division] officers are also concentrating their efforts on seatbelt and child-restraint violations as part of Operation Click It or Ticket,," the advisory said.

Motorists, according to the advisory, should also be reminded of Georgia's "Steer It and Clear It" law that requires drivers involved in crashes with no apparent serious personal injury, or death, to move the vehicles out of the traffic lanes -- if the vehicles are driveable.