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More wrecks but fewer deaths, injuries during New Year's holiday

POSTED: January 5, 2009 12:02 a.m.

Georgia motorists had more crashes than expected this New Year travel period, but, as of 6 p.m. Sunday, fewer people died or were injured as result.

Statewide, 17 traffic deaths were reported Sunday, the last day in a holiday period in which the Georgia State Patrol predicted 20 highway fatalities.

Also by 6 p.m., the latest reporting time available, there were 3,335 crashes involving 820 injuries in Georgia since Wednesday night, far below the prediction of 1,350 injured from car accidents.

The numbers showed that state patrol’s Northeast Georgia district, which includes Hall, went through the holiday without a traffic fatality.

Last year, the state patrol worked 3,108 wrecks involving 1,250 injuries and 22 deaths.

Two fatalities were reported in Gwinnett County. Traffic deaths also were reported in or around Dalton, LaFayette, DeKalb County, LaGrange, Putnam County, Sylvania, Dublin, Reidsville, Americus and Savannah, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

The 102-hour New Year’s holiday travel period began at 6 p.m. Wednesday and ended at midnight Sunday.

AAA Auto Club South predicted about 2 percent fewer people would be traveling between Christmas and New Year’s.

The Georgia State patrol believed Sunday may have been the biggest travel day, with motorists returning home before the work week begins.

Operator Jared Baker of the Gainesville post, which monitors Banks, Hall, Jackson and White counties, said that traffic was relatively sparse Sunday afternoon — a time during holiday weekends when cars typically would be buzzing along main roadways, such as Interstate 85. "I think the weather has some to do with it, too," Baker said. "It’s been raining and everything, and people are just staying inside."

Troopers stayed busy, however.

"Mainly, they’ve been looking for speeders," Baker said. "Today, it’s a major detail, which means they’re running radar and they’re over on (I-85) doing it."

The state patrol also participated with other law enforcement agencies across the country in Operation Zero Tolerance, a stepped-up effort to track and pull over intoxicated drivers.



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