Georgia authorities stepping up patrols for Labor Day weekend

Authorities across Georgia are preparing to step up patrols for the Labor Day holiday weekend, hoping to crack down on the number of drunken drivers on the roads this holiday.

The Operation Zero Tolerance campaign will run from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7 in conjunction with the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. Officers will be out in full force looking for drunken drivers.

“Too many people think their actions don’t affect anybody else,” Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood said in a news release. “They know it’s illegal and they know it’s wrong. But they do it anyway and make decisions as if the statistics just can’t happen to them.”

During the Labor Day weekend last year, Georgia saw 15 traffic deaths and a further 1,218 injuries result from 3,706 crashes. It may seem like good news that these fatalities were down from 22 in 2013, but even one life lost is too many.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows Labor Day weekend is a dangerous holiday for driving nationwide. In 2013, 38 percent of fatalities during the holiday travel period involved drunk drivers, amounting to 161 lives lost. More than a quarter of those fatalities involved a driver with a blood alcohol at least twice the legal limit.

“School has already begun for most counties in Georgia and we don’t want the first holiday weekend to bring tragedy,” Blackwood said. “That’s why we choose to reinforce our zero tolerance for impaired driving on holiday weekends. Tragedy doesn’t take a holiday.”

In 2013, NHTSA shows 65 percent of people killed in impaired driving crashes were the drunk drivers themselves. That means 6,515 drunk drivers lost their lives along with 3,561 additional victims.

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