Don't drink and drive; buckle up for holiday

ALBANY, Ga. -- State and local officials don't want Georgia to contribute to the National Crash Clock during the Labor Day weekend.

"We are concerned that the National Crash Clock will be running overtime this Labor Day holiday travel period," said Director Bob Dallas of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

The crash clock registers traffic fatalities at an average rate of every 14 minutes in the country, Dallas said.

The 78-hour Labor Day holiday travel period lasts from 6 p.m. today until midnight Monday. Last year there were 1,197 crashes reported that resulted in 867 injuries and 15 traffic deaths in the state, according to a Georgia State Patrol press release.

"Last year, there were no alcohol-related traffic deaths reported over the Labor Day holiday," said Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Col. Bill Hitchens. "One death did involve a drug-impaired driver."

Local law enforcement agencies, including the Dougherty County and Lee County sheriff's offices, the Dougherty County Police Department and the Albany Police Department, say they will do their share to get impaired drivers off the road.

"The prediction for the state is 18 deaths and more than 2,000 accidents with 900 injuries," said Dougherty County Police Capt. Robert Jennings. "We'll have extra patrols out like every holiday. Our HEAT patrols will concentrate on the big travel days Friday and Monday."

The local Batmobile could be pressed into action, said Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Capt. Craig Dodd.

"The Batmobile is a command center vehicle that contains the latest Intoxilyzer 5000 to test for DUI," Dodd said. "We'll be out looking for impaired drivers, speeders and aggressive drivers."

Drunken drivers in Georgia come under the rules of Operation Zero Tolerance that was initiated Aug. 20 and continues through the holiday.

"The end-of-summer mobilization is called Operation Zero Tolerance because even first-time violators go to jail," Dallas said. "In Georgia, OZT means you never receive just a warning or a citation. Impaired motorists caught driving over the .08 (blood alcohol content) limit are arrested. In Georgia, it is over the limit, under arrest."