The Union Recorder

August 30, 2013

Law enforcement, DNR prepare for Labor Day weekend traffic

Felicia Cummings
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Labor Day marks the end of the summer travel season. Law enforcement officials and the Department of Natural Resources rangers are anticipating the upcoming Labor Day holiday to bring people to both the water and the roads. The 78-hour Labor Day holiday travel period begins at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at midnight on Labor Day, according to a press release from the Georgia Department of Public Safety. 

The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office urges everyone to be cautious and alert when on the road this Labor Day holiday. 

"Drivers should plan to leave in plenty of time so they won't have to rush on the road, causing unnecessary traffic problems," said Cpt. Michael Lumpkin. 

To avoid endangering yourself and other travelers on the road, he also reminds motorists to wear their seatbelts and to obey all traffic laws. 

"No traffic law is worth breaking just to shave off a few seconds on your arrival time," said Lumpkin. 

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Law Enforcement Division stresses the importance of safety for all boat drivers and passengers. 

"While the Labor Day holiday weekend is not typically as busy as early and mid-summer holidays, there still is a need for increased awareness from all boaters," says Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver in a press release. 

According to the release, so far this year there have been 68 boating incidents, eight boating incident-related fatalities, and 22 total drownings on Georgia waters. Locally there have been two boating accidents, one with serious injuries and one with minor, no boating related fatalities, and 16 BUI arrests in total on Lake Sinclair.

"Overall it's been a good year. Our BUI citations were a little higher than I wanted them to be but with few accidents and no fatalities I'd have to say it's been an good summer on the lake," said DNR Cpl. Josh Copelan. 

There is a greater expectation of motorists on the highway than boaters in the waters this holiday period.

“This is the first weekend for regular season high school and college football games as well as special holiday events planned across the state that will all increase motor vehicle travel," said Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety in a press release. 

According to Copelan, because of the start of the football season, and the chance of rain, he does not expect to see many boaters on the lake.

"It will be interesting to see what the weekend will bring. We've seen a decrease in traffic on the lake ever since school started back. With the talk of rain and the beginning of football season hitting this weekend, I doubt there will be many boaters on the waters," he said. 

Regardless of the numbers, Copelan assures that rangers will still be on the lookout for violators. He urges all boaters not to operate the boat while drinking and to wear a life jacket. 

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