ALBANY, Ga. -- The New Year's holiday period officially ends at midnight Tuesday night and motorists can expect to see the increased presence of Georgia State Patrol troopers and local law enforcement.
Last year, Georgia law enforcement officers investigated 296 crashes over the period. Those wrecks resulted in 172 injuries and seven deaths.
Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said troopers will be patrolling throughout the upcoming holiday period with enforcement emphasis on impaired drivers, unrestrained drivers and passengers, and drivers exceeding the speed limit.
"Each holiday period, troopers are called to investigate traffic crashes involving serious injuries or fatalities, and these crashes could have been prevented," he said.
To assist in keeping impaired drivers from climbing behind the wheel, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety has revamped a smartphone app designed to help Georgians find a safe and sober ride home year-round.
The smartphone application, called "Drive Sober, GA," lists providers of free and paid rides in 11 cities across the state and in areas of metro Atlanta.
It also provides partiers in rural locations contact information for the AAA and Budweiser "Tow-to-Go" service, which is available around the holidays.
The AAA tow truck will take the vehicle and the driver home within a 10-mile radius or to a safe location and is free and available to both AAA members and non-members. It is a confidential service and may be reached at (855) 286-9246.
The "Tow-to-Go" services said people need to be aware of three guidelines:
-- Tow trucks can take up to two people home; if there are more people in the party, they will need to make other arrangements to get home safely.
-- There are no appointments to use the "Tow to Go" service. it is designed to be used as a last resort, so revelers should have a designated driver before they have their first drink.
-- If a person is too intoxicated to be safely transported in a tow truck, AAA may need to contact law enforcement to assist in getting the intoxicated individual a safe ride home.
Originally launched in 2011, the GOHS "Drive Sober, GA" smartphone application has recently been updated using new technology that makes the app easier to use than in the past.
The app is free and available to users of both Apple and Android devices.
"We don't think there's ever an excuse to drive impaired in Georgia," said Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. "But, with this app, we know there won't be an excuse to drive impaired, as most Georgians will have access to a safe ride home in the palm of their hands.
"We always prefer that, when you go out for a drink, you designate a sober driver or make plans for a safe ride home ahead of time,.But, just in case you get caught up in the holiday hustle and bustle, know you've got this as a 'Plan B.'"