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9 die in holiday wrecks

POSTED: January 1, 2009 11:49 p.m.

Nine people already have died in traffic crashes on Georgia’s roads, with three days left in the long holiday weekend.

As of 6 p.m. Thursday, nine people have been killed in 686 crashes across the state, with 171 people injured, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

The DeKalb County Police Department, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and state patrol posts in Dalton, Lafayette, Dublin and Americus each reported one traffic fatality so far this holiday period. The state patrol post in Sylvania reported three traffic deaths.

The state patrol has predicted that 20 people will be killed in traffic crashes in the 102-hour New Year’s holiday period, which began at 6 p.m. Wednesday and ends at midnight Sunday. The patrol also is predicting a total of 3,008 crashes and 1,350 injuries.

During last year’s New Year’s holiday period, 22 people were killed in 3,108 crashes.

The holiday has been quiet so far in the Hall County area, with no serious wrecks reported.

The holiday weekend also will bring to a close the national Zero Tolerance campaign. Since Dec. 19, Georgia state troopers and Department of Public Safety officers from the Motor Carrier Compliance and Capitol Police divisions have been working with law enforcement officers across the nation in a crackdown on impaired drivers.

Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, reminds drivers to be safe during the holiday period.

"It is not uncommon for law enforcement officers to encounter an impaired driver this time of year on weekday afternoons," he said. "That is why we remind drivers to concentrate on safe driving practices on every trip they make."

Hitchens said drivers should remain alert for the possibility of encountering an impaired driver.

"Watch for drivers who are weaving, traveling without their headlights at night or making sudden driving maneuvers that create traffic hazards," he said.

During the past five New Year’s holiday periods, there have been 11,715 traffic crashes reported, with 4,616 injuries and 74 traffic fatalities. On average, Georgia has recorded one traffic death every 5.6 holiday hours. The highest number of traffic deaths recorded over a New Year’s holiday travel period occurred in 1981 and 1987 when 23 fatalities occurred; the lowest was three in 1958.



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