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Motorists, boaters asked to play it safe during holiday weekend

May 26, 2017--9:00 a.m.

PRESS RELEASE

The Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Governor's Office of Highway Safety are asking everyone to buckle up their seat belts and life vests and drive safely because Troopers and Game Wardens will be out in full force as the summer travel and boating seasons begin with the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The three agencies are making stops around Georgia on their Summer '17 Safety Tour on Thursday, May 25 to let everyone know they are ready to write tickets and make arrests for anyone they find violating Georgia traffic and boating safety laws, especially those who are legally too impaired to drive a vehicle or a boat.

AAA is predicting the largest volume of traffic for the Memorial Day holiday in 12 years when more than 34 million people are expected to be on the road across the nation during the long weekend that runs from 6:00 p.m. Friday, May 26 until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 29 in Georgia.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 12 people were killed and more than 1,800 injured in 4,821 traffic crashes during last year's 78-hour holiday weekend.

“The Memorial Day weekend is always a heavily traveled holiday weekend, and historically one of the deadliest on our roadways," Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark W. McDonough said. "If you will be traveling this holiday period, make sure everyone is properly restrained, obey the posted speed limit, put the cell phone away and designate a sober driver if alcohol consumption will be in your plans.”

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is also when many boats will be on the water for the first time this year.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division's Game Wardens want boat owners to make sure their vessels have the proper safety equipment including life vests and making sure those operating boats are not impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Game Wardens made 182 boating under the influence arrests in Georgia last year, and alcohol was cited as a factor in 11 percent of the 116 boating incidents that killed 19 people. The number of drownings in the state rose from 39 in 2015 to 44 last year.

“All summer, Game Wardens across the state will be enforcing boating laws on Georgia’s waterways, just at the troopers will be enforcing driving laws on the highways,” said Col. Eddie Henderson, director of DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “They are there to remind everyone to operate their vehicles safely, but there is also personal responsibility in keeping you and your family safe. It is up to you (the public) to buckle on that life jacket, buckle up that seat belt and stay sober if you are behind the wheel, any wheel,”

The Memorial Day holiday weekend falls during the Governor's Office of Highway Safety's "Click It or Ticket" seat belt awareness campaign.

More than half of those people killed in traffic crashes in Georgia last year were not wearing seat belts, and many of those people would likely be alive today had they been buckled up.

"The seat belt is the primary thing that will keep you safe in the event you are in a traffic crash, and I just don't understand why any motorist would not buckle up and have that peace of mind when they are riding in a vehicle," Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood said. "We are extremely fortunate that our state law enforcement agencies work together to ensure the safety of everyone on the road and water."

The Summer '17 Safety Tour with the Georgia Department of Public Safety, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Governor's Office of Highway Safety will begin with a stop at Lake Lanier Islands in Buford. That will be followed by appearances at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Lake Hartwell in Hartwell, Georgia Veterans State Park on Lake Blackshear in Cordele and Pyke Road Park on West Point Lake in LaGrange.

For more information about the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, please go to our websites www.gahighwaysafety.org or www.headsupgeorgia.com.  Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/gahighwaysafety and on Twitter at @gohsgeorgia for the latest highway safety information.