The Union Recorder

July 9, 2013

Holiday traffic fatality numbers close to GSP projections

Felicia Cummings
The Union-Recorder



The Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety predicted that the lives of 14 people would be lost on Georgia roads during the July Fourth holiday period. The actual number of fatalities came dangerously close to meeting that projection. 

Traffic crashes accounted for 11 deaths in Georgia over the July Fourth holiday travel period, Georgia State Patrol reports in a press release. 

The holiday period began Wednesday, July 3 at 6 p.m. and ended Sunday at midnight. Col. George Ellis, commander of the Georgia State Patrol, said in the release that the traffic predictions were for 2,044 traffic crashes, 665 injuries and 14 fatalities during the 54-hour holiday period. Statewide, Georgia State Troopers investigated 785 traffic crashes that resulted in 374 injuries. These numbers are better than last year's statistics. Last year, 19 people were killed in traffic crashes during a 78-hour July Fourth holiday period. There were 2,453 traffic crashes and 711 injuries. 

The local agencies that reported traffic deaths during the holiday period were Henry County Police, Atlanta Police, Fulton County Police, Carrollton Police, the Jones County Sheriff's Office, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, and the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. 

The Georgia State Patrol also investigated three fatal crashes over the holiday period that resulted in four traffic deaths: 

• Thursday night at 9:45 p.m. a one vehicle crash occurred in Jefferson County that resulted in the death of Dennis Wynn, age 49; 

• A motorcycle crash Friday morning on Interstate 20 in Haralson County resulted in two fatalities, Felipe Cano Martinez, age 68, and Rosa Maria Martinez, age 69; and

• Ronnie Lee Butler, age 28, died from injuries he sustained Sunday morning around 2:30 a.m. when he lost control of his Honda Civic on Interstate 75 northbound near mile marker 351 in Catoosa County. 

In addition to crash investigations, State Troopers arrested more than 300 people for driving under the influence. 

The drop in numbers may have been affected by Operation Zero Tolerance. Law enforcement agencies across the state launched the statewide zero tolerance DUI campaign Monday, July 1 for July Fourth holiday traffic in an attempt to reduce the number of impaired and intoxicated motorists and boaters in Georgia during the holiday. The highest number of July Fourth holiday period fatalities was recorded in 1972 when 34 people were killed, according to the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety. 

The Labor Day holiday travel period, a 78-hour period, will begin Friday, August 30 at 6 p.m. and end Labor Day evening at midnight. State Troopers along with local law enforcement remind motorists to drive safely and make wise decisions when behind the wheel of a vehicle. 

“Troopers, police officers and sheriff's deputies will be looking for speeders, seat belt and child restraint violators, and drivers operating motor vehicles while impaired. Speed, a lack of occupant protection use, and an impaired driver make a deadly combination on ours roads,” said Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

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