OpEd: Buckle Up During the Holidays and All Year-Round

By Harris Blackwood, director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety

As the holiday season begins at Thanksgiving, more and more Georgians will be hitting the road for a visit to family, friends, or the big game.

Unlike yesteryear, the trip to grandma’s house is a little further than over the river and through the woods for most folks.  In the past few years, more and more people have chosen our great state as their new home.  This means that grandma and other family members may live in another state or region.

Once behind the wheel, it is easy to get excited about thoughts of turkey, all the trimmings and reuniting with those we love and miss.  While we don’t want to diminish the excitement of your holiday car trip, Georgia’s law enforcement professionals are asking that you focus your attention on the most important task of getting there safely.

The first thing we ask is that you buckle your safety belts and make sure all children under the age of 8 are in a proper child safety seat.  This is the easiest and most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and your passengers.  Georgia’s law enforcement agencies will be participating in “Click it or Ticket,” a statewide effort to promote and enforce the state’s seatbelt law.

Please watch your speed and obey the posted limits.  Driving five miles per hour over the posted speed limit is not going make a dramatic difference in your arrival time and places you at greater risk if you collide with another car or an object on the roadway.

If you enjoy too much to eat at your family gathering, that’s your business.  But if you have too much to drink and get back on the road, you are endangering the lives of everyone in your car and other motorists you encounter.  Local and state officers take driving under the influence very seriously.  If you are charged with having a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, you’ll be taken to jail in handcuffs, fingerprinted and a police mug shot will be taken.  Depending on your profession, you could lose your job and the fines and related costs could run into the thousands of dollars.

This is a time that many of us will enjoy.  That is accomplished when motorists do their part by driving safely and limiting distractions of cell phones and GPS devices that can take our attention away from the road.

On behalf of Gov. Nathan Deal and the men and women who patrol our roads during the holiday season, we ask for your help in making this a safe time for all.

The names of those who will be killed on Georgia roads this season represent families who lives will be changed forever because of the loss of someone they love. Please drive carefully, whether your trip is across town, across the state or across the country.  We hope it is a wonderful time for all of you.

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