South Carolina, Georgia troopers boost traffic enforcement

Georgia reports 7 traffic fatalities

If you’re traveling through South Carolina or Georgia this Thanksgiving weekend, expect to see the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Georgia State Patrol out in full force.

Troopers have been lining the roads and operating DUI checkpoints since Wednesday, Lance Cpl. Judd Jones, of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said, and they will continue to crack down on seat belt and speeding violations through Sunday evening.

“We’re trying to be proactive in our enforcement,” he said. “Our goal is to have zero fatalities on our roadways.”

Jones couldn’t provide a number for the weekend so far, but said there have been 684 fatalities across the state in 2013, compared to 776 in 2012.

That number could continue to decline as seat belt usage rises, Jones said.

“Our seat belt usage has continued to increase around the state,” he said. “That’s the one thing that’s helping fatalities stay down.”

In Georgia, there have been seven traffic fatalities since Wednesday evening, according to the Georgia Department of Public Safety Web site. Last year, state troopers reported 11 fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday period.

The highest number of traffic deaths ever recorded for the holiday period was 43 in 1969, according to a statement from the state’s public safety department. The low mark was set in 1949, when there were just four fatalities statewide.

Georgia State Patrol troopers will keep an eye out for impaired drivers this weekend. During last year’s holiday period, state troopers arrested 324 for DUI, according to the statement.

“Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, but also know that if you drive impaired, you will go to jail and your vehicle will be impounded,” said Colonel Mark McDonough, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, on Monday.

The Georgia State Patrol has reported more than 200 crashes so far this Thanksgiving holiday, resulting in more than 119 injuries.

In South Carolina, the highway patrol locks down on roadways for the duration of the week.

Jones said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the following weekend see more drivers on the road who are entering and leaving the state.

South Carolina Highway Patrol’s Troop 7 pays special attention to I-20 and Atomic Road during the holiday season, Jones said, but troopers also analyze traffic statistics in the weeks leading up to major holidays in order to address other problem areas.

Targeted areas should expect see DUI checkpoints and an increase in trooper presence to influence good driving behavior.

“We can’t do it by ourselves,” Jones said. “We ask anyone who sees an impaired driver to give us a call. We want to keep the roadways safe.”

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TOW TO GO

For adults wishing to add alcohol to their celebrations, AAA is teaming with Bud Light to offer free tows and rides to a safe location within a 10-mile radius through Sunday for people in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee through the Tow to Go program. It is available to AAA members and nonmembers alike.

For service, call (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9245.

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