18 fatalities predicted on Georgia roads

ATLANTA -- In the 78-hour Fourth of July holiday period that began at 6 p.m. yesterday, Georgia highway safety officials are predicting 18 deaths on state roadways.

That would be three more deaths than in 2009, when the Fourth also fell on a weekend day.

"Most of these crashes aren't just random events caused by too many cars navigating through too much congestion," Director Bob Dallas of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) said today. "Drivers need to pay attention to Georgia State Patrol warnings that alcohol, speed and failure to use safety belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes during the holiday travel periods."

Estimates from the Georgia Department of Transportation Crash Reporting Unit and the Georgia State Patrol call for as many as 2,072 crashes resulting in 999 injuries and 18 traffic deaths on Georgia roadways. The 78-hour holiday period ends at midnight Sunday.

There were 15 traffic deaths in Georgia during the 2009 Independence Day driving period. One of those fatal crashes was alcohol-related, eight other crash fatalities weren't wearing seat belts, and three people were killed on motorcycles.