Officials urge drivers to be safe during holiday travels - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Officials urge drivers to be safe during holiday travels

Many travelers are taking to the roads this holiday season, in fact close to 103 million according to AAA. (Source: WALB) Many travelers are taking to the roads this holiday season, in fact close to 103 million according to AAA. (Source: WALB)
Law enforcement officers said they won't be easy on violators they stop during the holiday travel period. (Source: WALB) Law enforcement officers said they won't be easy on violators they stop during the holiday travel period. (Source: WALB)
Col. Mark McDonough, Governor's Office of Highway Safety Commander. (Source: WALB) Col. Mark McDonough, Governor's Office of Highway Safety Commander. (Source: WALB)
DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) -

Many travelers are taking to the roads this holiday season, in fact close to 103 million according to AAA.

It has already been a dangerous year on Georgia roads, and highway officials don't want to add any more numbers to this year's high death toll.

 According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia's total for traffic related deaths in 2016 is 1,460 fatalities. Last year's total was 1,432.

One of the reasons for that number is impaired driving.

 "When you make that conscience behavior to become impaired, you are doing so for you own reasons.  But to take that further and place yourself in a 3,500 or 4,000 pound bullet essentially that you could kill somebody else," said Col. Mark McDonough, Governor's Office of Highway Safety Commander.

However impaired driving isn't the only problem. So is distracted driving.

"If you are the person is driving, put it (the phone) down. If you are also a family member that knows somebody in your family or a friend is on the road, why are you texting them?  Why tempt them to reach to this thing.  On both sides of it, to the person driving and to those that know folks are driving, just put it away. It can wait," said McDonough.

This year's Christmas travel period is begins Friday, December 23,2016, at 6:00 p.m. and ends at midnight on Monday, December 26, 2016.

Last year, Georgia saw 14 traffic-related fatalities over the 2015 Christmas travel period across the entire state. However, our district (district 4) saw zero traffic related deaths during that period. 

During the 2015 New Year's travel period, the state also saw 14 traffic-related fatalities. Again, the southwest district did not see any deaths during the travel period.

There was one fatality due to a motorcycle accident in Coffee County on Friday, December 31, 2015, but that was a few hours before the official travel period.

Law enforcement officers said they won't be easy on violators they stop during the holiday travel period.

They are looking for not only drunk drivers, but speeders as well.

A top reason officers said crashes are caused over the holidays is usually speeding. 

Super speeders are even more at risk of an accident, but will at the least get an even more expensive ticket when stopped.

McDonough said that's exactly what the statistics show.

"Statistically if you look at what causes accidents, it is predominantly driver behavior.  If you are speeding, you are more apt to be an accident in because your reaction is less.  So, what makes sense?  Slower is safer.  If you are chose that speed, you knew you were going to be in accident, you would not choose a higher speed.  You would choose as low as possible. Slow down.  The speed limit is there for a reason," said McDonough.

If you're on a hurry on your travels this year, they urge you to slow down.

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