Labor Day deaths

The nine Labor Day traffic fatalities that occurred in Georgia over the long holiday weekend were half the number of deaths that occurred on the state’s road during the 2018 holiday period.

ATLANTA — State public safety officials are reminding Georgians to drive carefully during the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.

Last year, 18 people lost their lives on Georgia roadways over the holiday period widely referred to as the unofficial end of the summer travel season that traditionally starts on Memorial Day weekend.

“Troopers and motor carrier officers will be on patrol in full force for the upcoming 78-hour Labor Day holiday travel period this weekend,” Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said. “They will focus their attention on speeders, unrestrained occupants, as well as distracted and impaired drivers.”

The DPS reckons the holiday period as being from 6 p.m. today through midnight Monday.

“Motorists should expect heavier traffic this weekend, as most people use the extended weekend to take their final family trips before the summer ends,” McDonough said.

Low gas prices could fuel heavy travel. AAA officials say gas pump prices are expected to be the lowest in three years this weekend.

“For Americans who bookend summer with road trips, they will find gas prices this coming weekend that are cheaper than this past Memorial Day and last year’s Labor Day holiday,” Jeanette Casselano, a AAA spokesperson, said. “At the start of the week, two-thirds of all states have gas price averages that are nearly a quarter cheaper than last year.”

Officials with the Georgia Department of Transportation said on Tuesday they will be taking steps to ease congestion of heavy traffic flow through construction zones.

GDOT said it was suspending interstate highway construction-related lane closures in metro Atlanta from noon Friday until 5 a.m. Tuesday. The agency said it also was limiting lane closures on major state routes directly serving key tourist and recreation centers.

Some lane closures, however, may have to stay in effect because of safety concerns. Incident management or emergency, maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary at any time on any route, officials noted.

Transportation officials also said they wanted to remind drivers that road crews may still be working close to highways over the holiday weekend.

During the 2018 Labor Day holiday period, troopers investigated 490 crashes with 296 injuries and nine fatalities. In addition to crash investigations, DPS officials said, troopers and motor carrier officers wrote 9,008 citations, 12,180 warnings and arrested 332 motorists for driving under the influence.

None of the traffic fatalities last year occurred in southwest Georgia. In addition to the fatalities worked by state troopers, local agencies that reported fatal crashes were Union City police and Richmond County sheriff’s deputies, three fatalities each; Cobb County police, two deaths, and Clayton County police, one death.

DPS officials also offered some tips for avoiding wrecks and tickets:

♦ Obey the posted speed limit;

♦ Do not drive impaired. Designate a sober driver, call a taxi, rideshare service, friend or family member to get home safely;

♦ Buckle up. Make everyone in the vehicle wear a seat belt and ensure children are in the appropriate child safety seats;

♦ Be attentive while driving. Limit distractions, and never use electronic devices to text or surf the web while driving. Remember the Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving;

♦ Don’t leave children and pets in cars;

♦ Stay alert to surroundings and show common courtesy to other motorists and pedestrians.

Throughout the holiday period, the traffic fatality count is available on the DPS Twitter page at twitter.com/ga_dps.

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