The Georgia State Patrols 953 troopers will provide a more visible presence than usual during the long holiday weekend, during which 16 traffic fatalities are predicted statewide.
We will have checkpoints set up around the state for seatbelts, and for sobriety, said Lt. Paul Cosper, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
The 102-hour period from 6 p.m. today through midnight Sunday is traditionally one of the years busiest in terms of travel, he said during a briefing today at the State Patrols new office near Grovetown.
According to computer generated statistics, there will be in addition to the 16 fatalities 3,570 accidents that will result in 1,398 injuries.
Last year. Lt. Cosper said, 19 fatalities were reported. The highest weve ever had was 43, in 1969, he said. The lowest we ever recorded was four in 1947.
Typically, no more than 50 percent of the states troopers can be off at a given time. During Thanksgiving weekend and other peak travel times, however, no more than 25 percent of the force can be off duty.
Weather patterns are favorable for a low accident rate this year, he said. When its rainy and wet we have more accidents and a risk for more fatalities, but the forecast right now for most of the state is nice, all the way through Sunday.
Wearing seat belts and avoiding alcohol are two primary ways to reduce accidents and stay safe, he said.
Last year, seven of the 19 fatalities involved victims who were not wearing seatbelts.
The holiday traffic count is updated throughout the holiday weekend beginning Thanksgiving morning at the Georgia Department of Public Safety web site: http://dps.georgia.gov .
So far today, Georgia highway traffic patterns have gone fairly smooth.
Georgia Department of Transportation officials expected traffic to pick up this afternoon as people left for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Georgia DOT has suspended construction-related closings on interstates and major state routes from 5 a.m. today to midnight Sunday.
Officials expect delays on the road today, especially around the metro Atlanta area. Heavy traffic is expected on I-85 in Gwinnett County, I-75 in Cobb County, state route 400, and I-285.
There are also permanent lane closings in place on I-85 in Meriwether and Coweta counties, I-75 in south Georgia and I-95 near the coast.
Travelers can call 511 for free to get real-time traffic information and report accidents. Travelers outside the state can call 1-877-694-2511 for the same information.
In South Carolina, the Highway Patrol is also putting more troopers on the road for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The patrol is bringing in troopers who normally work administrative jobs to help on the highways starting today. The emphasis will be on the busiest holiday travel days the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday.
AAA Carolinas is predicting 569,000 South Carolinians will travel more than 50 miles from home this year, an increase of about 2 percent from 2008.
The patrol says its special team concentrating on driving under the influence cases will be on the roads throughout the holidays.
Associated Press accounts were used in this report.