Georgia State Troopers and officers with the Motor Carrier Compliance and Capitol Police Divisions will be keeping a sharp eye out for impaired drivers during upcoming holiday patrols in an effort to prevent fatal traffic crashes. The officers of the Department of Public Safety will be on full patrol for both the Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel periods.

Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Colonel Bill Hitchens said the Christmas holiday travel period begins December 23 at 6 p.m. and continues until midnight December 26.

Traffic predictions from the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia State Patrol are for 1,701 traffic crashes, 743 injuries and 14 traffic deaths. Last year, 11 people died on Georgia roads during a Christmas holiday period that was 54 hours long. There were 1,250 crashes and 586 injuries recorded.

The New Year’s holiday period begins at 6 p.m. December 30 and ends at midnight January 2, 2006. Traffic predictions are for 1,794 traffic crashes, 780 injuries and 15 traffic deaths. During the last New Year’s holiday period, which was also 54 hours long, Georgia recorded 1,277 crashes, 650 injuries and 13 fatalities.

The Georgia State Patrol is also participating with other law enforcement agencies across the state in Operation Zero Tolerance. The high visibility enforcement program targets impaired drivers through saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints across the state.

“This is a festive time of year,” Hitchens said. “Tragically, too many families will have their holidays marred by traffic crashes. That is why our troopers and officers will be on patrol for the holidays.”

Hitchens advises motorists to plan holiday activities carefully.

“Choose a sober designated driver before partying or if you plan to drive, don’t drink,” he said.

The GSP Commander also reminds everyone planning to travel during the holiday period to always wear your seat belt and make sure children are properly restrained.

The highest number of Christmas deaths occurred in 1971 when 36 people were killed and the lowest occurred in 1982 and 2002 with five deaths. For New Year’s, the highest occurred in 1981 and 1987 with 23 deaths and the lowest occurred in 1947 and 1958 when Georgia recorded only three deaths.

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