A statewide campaign has been launched to help stem the number of impaired motorists during the holidays.
The campaign by the Governor’s Office for Highway Safety began Friday and ends Jan. 2. It calls for increased vigilance by local and state law enforcement agencies to watch for motorists driving under the influence.
One of those agencies participating will be the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, said Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard.
“The Burke County Sheriff’s Office will be participating in increased enforcement activities in conjunction with state and other local officers,” he said in a statement.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 37,461 traffic fatalities in 2016 with 28 percent involving drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of .08.
“The holidays should be a time for celebrations and making memories, not a time of tragedy,” said Harris Blackwood, the director of the Governor’s Office for Highway Safety in a news release. “Not only do we want people to get a designated driver to begin with, but we want them to know that if they fail to do so, they will go to jail. No warnings, no excuses.”
Blanchard said Burke County averages 13 traffic fatalities annually, with most due to impaired driving.
“The primary causation being speed and in some instances the drivers were DUI,” Blanchard said. “Speed is a major factor in our county and additional resources will be out pro-actively working speed enforcement.”
Coumbia County reported 19 fatal accidents, an increase from the 16 that occurred in 2016, two of which involved DUI.
“Our goal is ensuring everyone on the road makes it to their destinations safely,” Maj. Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said.
The Office of Highway Safety, along with NHTS, offered the following tips to motorists as they prepare for the holidays:
Plan ahead: If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home. If it is your turn to be a designated driver, take the responsibility seriously. Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you have had only one alcoholic beverage.
Be vigilant: Be prepared to take keys away from soneone who is impaired. If you see an impaired driver while on the road call 9-1-1, and
Use a rideshare program, such as Uber or Lyft.
“We want to keep Georgia’s roads safe this holiday season and help people understand that the only time they should be behind the wheel is when they are sober,” Blackwood said. “Alcohol affects people differently and you do not have to be feeling or acting drunk to be too impaired to drive.”
For more information about the holiday enforcement campaign visit the Office of Highway Safety website at http://www.gahighwaysafety.org.