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Police boosting patrol for holiday
Law agencies stepping up enforcement for Thanksgiving travelers
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Hall County Sheriff's deputies are already stepping up traffic enforcement as residents enter the peak traveling hours for Thanksgiving.

About 500 law enforcement agencies statewide are participating in the "Click It or Ticket" mobilization under the Governor's Office of Highway Safety to encourage drivers and passengers to buckle up each time they get in a car.

"One of the things we see is that rigorous seat belt use is the most effective way to prevent being involved in a fatality, and it reduces the risk of being killed in an accident," said Hall County Sheriff's spokesman Col. Jeff Strickland. "Taking two seconds to buckle up is the best way to protect yourself or a loved one."

During last year's 102-hour Thanksgiving travel period, the Georgia State Patrol reported 3,089 crashes, 730 injuries and 12 fatalities, and in the fatal crashes, most weren't wearing seat belts.

"During the Thanksgiving time period, we had one fatality in Hall County last year," Strickland said. "We consider one fatality too many."

Patrol officers will concentrate on seat belt, speeding and impaired driving violations this week, also starting up heightened holiday alerts against drunk driving.

"The DUI task force will be out along with the regular traffic unit on Thanksgiving day. Our main goal is to reduce the number of fatal accidents," Strickland said.

"Never drink and drive, but if you attend a holiday event and plan to consume alcohol, make the most important decision of designating a driver that remains completely sober."

Officials also remind drivers to plan out travels and allow extra time to reach the destination.

"Anticipate traffic delays due to volume or a crash that blocks travel lanes," said Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. "Also, be prepared should rain make driving conditions hazardous."

In the case of traffic delays, the Department of Transportation urges travelers to call 511 for updated information about construction projects on interstates and state routes.

The number of Americans traveling for the holiday weekend will likely increase 11.4 percent from 2009, with approximately 42.2 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles from home, AAA Auto Club South predicted this week.

In 2009, 37.9 million Americans traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday period, which is defined as the Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving. The double-digit increase signifies an upturn in travel and the economy, said Gregg Laskoski, managing director of public relations.

"This year's projected increase in holiday travel appears to be the result of modestly improved economic conditions since last year, including an increase in gross domestic product, real disposable personal income and household net worth combined with a decrease in consumer debt," he said. "While job growth has been minimal and unemployment remains high, the unemployment rate has remained stable, which is an improvement from 2008 and 2009 when job losses were mounting each quarter."

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