With so many wrecks, troopers are stretched to the max

With so many wrecks, troopers are stretched to the max
Trooper David Fretwell (Source: WALB)
Trooper David Fretwell (Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Georgia State troopers are anticipating over one hundred fatal crashes in September alone.

Frequent fatal wrecks are becoming a growing concern for law enforcement agencies, as distracted and impaired driving increase.

One trooper said he was honestly surprised he hadn't gotten a call about another fatal wreck this morning. It's becoming an unnerving norm, and troopers hope these scary statistics will open peoples' eyes.

It may sound like a broken record, but the message is clearly not getting through. "Keep your eyes on the road.  Put the phone down," said Trooper David Fretwell.

"It's a lot of distracted driving.  It takes a fraction of a second to take your eyes off the road, to veer over into another lane, and then there's nothing you can do at that point."

Post 40 here in Albany is part of Troop G in Georgia. This particular troop has worked close to 200 wrecks, resulting in 139 injuries and 12 fatalities. "I've worked three fatalities within the month's period.  And that's not a typical month," Fretwell said.

Trooper Fretwell has been on patrol for nine years now. He says the mere presence of these patrol cars is proven to make a difference.

"If we're not seen on the roads, the driving behaviors for the drivers are at a higher risk. They take more chances with what they're doing, because they're not seeing us."

But not enough troopers are out on the roads. "But unfortunately, there's not that many of us to be everywhere at one time."

He says alcohol is no longer the immediate thought when it comes to working these fatal crashes.
Texting and driving and impaired driving are becoming a major concern. "You'll see them failing to maintain lane, you'll see them fail to yield, they'll blow stop signs, and things of that nature that result in those crashes."

In the past week, two fatal wrecks in Colquitt County have killed three people, each one involving a car crossing over the center line.

But in the end, Trooper Fretwell believes education may be one of the biggest answers to this problem. "There are going to be new drivers, inexperienced, and we've got plans to go to the high schools and have some courses to teach them about the dangers of distracted driving."

There may be some good news though; Governor Nathan Deal plans to give state law enforcement officers a pay raise, come January first.

Fretwell hopes this will help with recruiting more troopers and retaining current ones, so more will be visible out on the roads.

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