Category Archives: People

Statewide Law Enforcement Warn of DUI Nightmares on Halloween

Safety issues for trick-or-treaters and parents

Halloween is a time for making memories, not causing nightmares so the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is warning this year’s partiers that buzzed driving is still drunk driving no matter how good your costume is.

Nationwide in 2015, 55 people were killed in drunk driving-related crashes on the ghoulish holiday. Eight of those were pedestrian deaths. This means that on Halloween and any other night, if you’re impaired behind the wheel, you’re a danger to yourself, other motorists and those who’ve chosen to walk to their destination. So before the eve of all hallows on October 31, be sure to make a plan to get home safely if your evening will involve alcohol.

“It is imperative that Halloween partygoers make a plan ahead of time for a sober ride home,” GOHS Director Harris Blackwood said. “These days, there are far too many options for a sober ride with taxis, public transportation, smartphone apps and friends as designated drivers. And with costumed little ones running from house to house for sugary treats, there are far too many consequences if you don’t get a sober ride.”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows 45 percent of all people killed in traffic crashes on Halloween night from 2011 to 2015 were in crashes involving a drunk driver. Children out trick-or-treating and the parents accompanying them are also at risk, with 36 percent of fatal Halloween night pedestrian crashes in the same time period involving drunk drivers. Younger drivers, however, are most at risk. The 21-to-34 age group accounted for 64 percent of Halloween night fatalities in nationwide drunk-driving-related crashes for 2015.

It is also just as important for parents and their trick-or-treaters to safely prepare for an evening of hitting the streets for a sugary bounty. If walking, everyone should stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in the street if possible. If no sidewalks are available, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. And as always, all pedestrians should look both ways before crossing the street and do so only at crosswalks and street corners. Never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.

“Costumes and treat buckets should also include reflective elements to make trick-or-treaters more visible to motorists,” Blackwood said. “It is also a good idea to carry a flashlight with fresh batteries so this year’s crop of superheroes, witches, pirates and princesses can safely find their way.”

The good news is there are lots of easy ways for both motorists and trick-or-treaters alike to have a safely memorable Halloween:

For Trick-or-Treaters and Parents

  • Parents should accompany trick-or-treaters under the age of 12.
  • Review trick-or-treating safety precautions and plan a route ahead of time.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street and use crosswalks as much as possible.
  • Buckle up if driving trick-or-treaters between houses and use appropriate car seats.

For Motorists

  • Plan a safe way home before you go out. For example, arrange for a sober driver, program taxi numbers into your phone or download the Drive Sober, Georgia app to have a list of ride programs at your fingertips.
  • Avoid neighborhood shortcuts and residential streets where trick-or-treaters are likely to be present.
  • Watch for children in the street. Their size means they can be hidden by other cars and they may dart into the street or otherwise avoid crosswalks to get quickly to the next house.
  • Slow down.

Beyond Transportation

Georgia DOT explores programs to expand Navigator 511 statewide and improve telecommunications across Georgia

ATLANTA, GA – Increasingly, the world is dependent on high-speed internet and reliable cell phone service. But many throughout Georgia rely on spotty or inconsistent cellular and slow internet.

Better days may be ahead as Georgia DOT explores two initiatives—broadband and wireless—that use the state-owned right-of-way (ROW) to expand the 511 Navigator system statewide, as well as enhance telecommunications for all Georgians.

“We are looking at the potential to use cutting-edge technology to improve the everyday lives of Georgians – not only by expanding and enhancing statewide traffic communications, but also by improving cell phone and broadband internet options for the public,” GDOT Division Director of Operations John Hibbard, P.E. explained today in a presentation to the State Transportation Board. “Georgia DOT has no desire to get into the utility business. These are public-private partnerships—P3s—that would be financed, developed, managed and maintained by private contractors on state-owned property.”

The department is reviewing responses from the broadband and cellular industries to Georgia DOT’s requests for information (RFI) about two potential programs.

  • The broadband initiative would install conduit on the ROW along all Georgia interstates. The developer would sell or lease the conduit space to others who would install fiber-optic cable for private use. Fiber-optic technology transmits data through durable thin glass strands that carry a tremendous amount of data at exceptionally fast speeds. Installing this fiber would provide improved statewide internet coverage to meet the internet needs of rural communities while enabling GDOT to better connect all offices and improve traffic management throughout Georgia.

    “80 percent of Georgians live within 20 miles of an interstate,” Hibbard said. “Installing this technology along the interstates should result in tremendous benefits for all Georgians, especially those in rural regions.”

  • The wireless initiative would utilize “small cell” poles on the ROW of state routes to facilitate the change from 4G technology to 5G, which offers far greater speed and capacity. The developer would sell or lease space on the poles for use by wireless communications providers. Existing poles would be used when possible. Where a new pole must be installed, its placement along the ROW would be carefully considered, with public safety being the primary consideration. While small cell poles are much shorter than traditional cell phone towers—50 feet versus 250 feet—more are required because 5G travels shorter distances. This technology would meet the wireless communications needs of Georgia DOT, as well as those of the public.

“The potential benefits are enormous, not only for transportation management in Georgia, but also for people in their homes and businesses, and for the economic development that could result from increased connections,” Hibbard said. “Several states have had varying degrees of success with similar programs. We are looking at all angles to come up with just the right model for Georgia.”

Gov. Nathan Deal and state legislators are supportive of initial concepts. The next step, after the first of the year, would be for Georgia DOT to solicit proposals.

Motorists Reminded To Stay Away From The Wheel If They Plan To Celebrate Labor Day Holiday With Alcohol

(Atlanta) –  Motorists planning to end their summer with a trip during the Labor Day holiday weekend are reminded to make sure they do not get behind the wheel if their plans include drinking alcohol.

Those adults planning to drink alcoholic beverages during the long holiday weekend are urged to make plans now for a sober ride home.

The Labor Day holiday weekend travel period will officially begin in Georgia at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 1 and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, September 4.

“Whether you are going to the beach, lake, mountains or a football tailgate, we want all Georgians to enjoy the last unofficial weekend of the summer,” Harris Blackwood, Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said. “We also want everyone to come home safe, and the way to make sure that happens is to not get behind the wheel if you have been drinking alcohol.”

Labor Day weekend marks the end of the “100 Days of Summer” travel period in Georgia and across the nation.

Unfortunately, almost 400 people have been killed in traffic crashes throughout the state since the start of the 100-day summer travel period during the Memorial Day holiday weekend in May of this year.

Georgia law enforcement officers are asking motorists to pay attention to the road like they did during last month’s “Operation Southern Shield”.

The number of traffic fatalities in Georgia during the highly publicized speeding awareness initiative July 17-23 was 45% lower than the previous week.

Crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows alcohol is factor in one out of every four traffic deaths in the state of Georgia.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Safety, 13 people were killed during the 78-hour Labor Day travel period in Georgia last year.  Troopers also made 320 DUI arrests during last year’s holiday weekend, which began at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 2 and ended at 11:59 a.m. on Monday, September 5.

“Not getting a sober ride home after having a few alcoholic beverages because you may only have a short distance to drive is a recipe for disaster,” Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Colonel Mark C. McDonough said. “Risking your safety and selfishly risking the safety of somebody else by getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking is not worth it.”

A recent study by WalletHub.com found Georgia ranked 2nd in the nation for the strictest DUI laws as state and local law enforcement officers continue to maintain a zero tolerance policy by taking all impaired drivers to jail.  No warnings.  No excuses.

Motorists can avoid spending their holiday behind bars by designating a driver, calling a cab or ride service, or using AAA’s Tow-To-Go which will be providing free rides and tows for up to 10 miles from Friday, September 1 to 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 5.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s free DriveSoberGA app will also dial the Tow-To-Go number for motorists, as well as provide a list of cab companies in 14 cities around Georgia.

For more information about the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, visit gahighwaysafety.org or www.headsUPgeorgia.com.

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