Holiday travel season expected to be busy
By LOUIE BROGDON The Brunswick News
The busiest travel season of the year is here, and traffic officials are urging those planning trips out of town to visit family or friends to be extra-cautious.
According to the AAA Auto Club, nearly 90 percent of all travelers nationwide, or 39.1 million people, will be on the roads and interstates during the Thanksgiving travel period.
Georgia State Patrol Trooper Robbie Jump said the patrol will be ramping up enforcement to meet the increased traffic.
"We'll be out in full force, that's for sure. During the holiday, all shifts of troopers will be working," Jump said. "We'll be working the interstate and the back roads checking for speeders, seat belt violations, child restraints and on the lookout for (impaired) drivers."
The Thanksgiving travel period will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday and continue through midnight Sunday.
Jump urged motorists to be wary while traveling and to be prepared in case the trip takes a turn for the worse.
"Make sure you had a mechanic check your vehicle out before you go, if you're going long distances. Bring any medication you may need with you, and it's a good idea to bring some water, in case you break down," Jump said. "Drive the speed limit and keep an eye out for other motorists."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 7,630 people died in vehicle related fatalities in the first quarter of 2012. That is a 13.5 percent increase from the same time period in 2011.
A major contributor to that figure involves people who broke down being struck in traffic, according to the highway safety administration.
Officials urge motorists who break down or get in an accident to pull off as far as possible to the right side of the road, turn on the car's hazard lights and exit the vehicle away from traffic.
Trooper Jump warned, too, that not all accidents happen on the highway.
"We will be working after Thanksgiving around the shopping areas, where most of the accidents occur," Jump said.
The Crash Reporting Unit of the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia State Patrol are jointly predicting 2,915 traffic crashes, 1,301 injuries and 20 traffic deaths on Georgia roads during the holiday period. In 2011, there were 2,760 traffic crashes that resulted in 1,227 injuries and 17 traffic deaths.
During the past five years, 82 people have died in traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period. The 16,171 traffic crashes reported have resulted in 5,727 injuries.