Warning to drive slow and sober this holiday season

If you’re planning a long holiday trip tonight or tomorrow morning, traffic safety officials in Georgia have a plea and a warning. They’re asking you to drive sober, slow down, get off your cell phone and wear a seat belt. And you may be ticketed if you don’t.

The number of traffic deaths so far this year in Georgia has surpassed the total for last year.. “More than half of the fatalities this year involved people who were not wearing a seat belt but it’s the proactive thing to do,” says Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Another factor in crashes, we’re told is speeding. “Statistically, if you look at what causes accidents, it’s predominantly driver behavior if you’re speeding you’re more apt to be in an accident because your reaction time is reduced so what makes sense, slower is safer,” says Colonel Mark McDonough, who is commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety,

McDonough also says that distracted driving is becoming as much of a concern as impaired driving. “If you find yourself on your cell phone while in the car, you’re looking at your phone, you’re not looking at the environment outside the vehicle and that distraction is causing a lot of accidents,” he said.

During the 2015 holiday season, 39 people died in crashes. The 2016 traffic death count thus far is 1432 people. There are over 1,400 families who are not going to have a Merry Christmas because someone they love will not be around the table this year,” said Blackwood. “Many of these deaths can be prevented if drivers will slow down, wear their seat belts and put their phones down while they are driving.”

Authorities say drivers should expect to see troopers out using radar and issuing tickets. They warn that one out of every four traffic deaths in Georgia is caused by a drunk or impaired driver. “If you become impaired, you’re doing so for your own reason and then to place yourself in a 3,500 pound bullet essentially that you could kill somebody else, that’s about as selfish as I can think of so think of others,” said McDonough.

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