The Georgia Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) ask motorists to protect their “giblets” when driving by always wearing their seat belt and never getting behind the wheel if they are legally too impaired to drive.

With AAA predicting more than 1.5 million people will be traveling by vehicle during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period in Georgia, state and local law enforcement officers will be on the road throughout the extended holiday weekend. Officers will be looking to prevent crashes by getting motorists to obey the speed limit, buckle their seat belts and taking drunk drivers off the road.

“State troopers will be out on the roads keeping a close eye out for seat belt violations, drunk drivers and other traffic offenses that could possibly cause a serious crash,” said Col. Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “So, make sure you plan your trips carefully. Ensure that everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt and that children are properly restrained. Don’t drive impaired or distracted, and obey the posted speed limit.”

According to the Georgia Department of Public Safety, 12 people died in traffic crashes during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday travel period. That was 40-percent lower than the number of traffic deaths during the same time in 2016. The 102-hour travel period begins at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates seat belts have saved more than 14,000 lives in the U.S. in 2016, and that another 2,456 lives would have been saved that year had everyone wore their seat belt for every vehicle trip.

While so many will be traveling over the holidays, GOHS joins law enforcement officers in reminding everyone to not get behind the wheel if they have been drinking alcohol and are legally too impaired to drive.

According to NHTSA, the increase in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities has made Thanksgiving the deadliest holiday on roads in the U.S.

More than 800 people have been killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the U.S. during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend over the last five years and one out of every three deaths during the holiday weekend is alcohol-related.

Many of the alcohol-related traffic deaths happen on Thanksgiving Eve when people go out to visit with hometown friends.

“Unfortunately, too many Thanksgiving celebrations are ruined when a family member is killed in a traffic crash during the holiday weekend,” said Harris Blackwood, director of GOHS. “Your son or daughter is never too old to be reminded to ride with a sober driver or ride service or you can offer to give your child a ride home. There is nothing to be embarrassed about when it comes to keeping impaired drivers off our roads and making sure the people we care about get home safely.”

Another option for those who are too impaired to drive is AAA’s Tow-To-Go program, which offers free tows and rides up to 10 miles from Wednesday to 6 a.m. on Sunday. Those interested in the free ride can visit https://autoclubsouth.aaa.com/safety/tow_to_go.aspx or call (855) 2-TOW-2-GO.

For more information, visit https://www.gahighwaysafety.org.

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