Hazardous holiday on the highways

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Raines, post commander of Georgia State Patrol Post 2 LaGrange, writes down a driver’s information during a traffic stop. Troopers will be out in force for the Fourth of July holiday weekend looking for dangerous and distracted motorists, Raines said, and setting up safety check points around Troup County.

Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Raines, post commander of Georgia State Patrol Post 2 LaGrange, uses a radar to check drivers’ speeds. Raines said GSP troopers will be looking for speeders, impaired drivers, seat belt violations and failure to maintain lane among other traffic infractions on the state’s highways, interstates and roadways. The holiday period starts 6 p.m. today and lasts through midnight Sunday.

LaGRANGE — Officials with the Georgia State Patrol said the Fourth of July weekend is the busiest travel holiday of the year on the state’s highways and roadways.

It can also be the deadliest.

“Our troopers will be out in strict enforcement looking for speeders, impaired drivers and seat belt violations,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Raines, post commander of GSP Post 2 in LaGrange. “Plus, we’ll be looking for other small violations such as failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign and failure to maintain your lane by striking the fog line (white line) or crossing the center line.”

Raines said during the 2014 July Fourth holiday period, there were five fatalities in the state of Georgia, 414 accidents and 291 people arrested for driving under the influence.

This year, Independence Day will fall on a Saturday, which concerns law enforcement officials. It is one of the reasons GSP is kicking off its no-tolerance campaign on the highways a day early, starting 6 p.m. today, Raines said.

“If you drink and drive, it means you are going to jail,” he said. “It’s not worth the risk. If you’re caught, you’ll be handcuffed and taken to jail. We want everyone to enjoy a safe Fourth of July celebration weekend. But it takes all of us to make it happen.”

GSP officials also provided the following safety tips for drivers hitting the road this holiday weekend:

• Make sure the vehicle is running properly – inspect hoses, tires and belts;

• Wear a seat belt;

“Seat belts save lives,” said Raines. “Make sure everyone in your car is buckled up, even if it is a short trip. Not being buckled up could cost you your life.”

• Properly install child safety seats;

• Obey the speed limit;

“Speed continues to be the number one contributing factor in fatal crashes that state troopers investigate,” Raines noted.

• Do not leave children or pets in hot cars;

• Avoid driving distractions such as texting and talking on cell phones; and

• Avoid long travel distances without taking a break.

Raines said breaking the law could cost a person thousands of dollars in fines, hours of community service or worse, their life or the life of someone else.

He also said GSP troopers will be setting up safety check points around Troup County this weekend.

“Our troopers will strictly enforce all traffic laws,” said Raines. “If you don’t want a ticket, don’t break a law.”