Troopers are predicting 18 deaths on Georgia roads this holiday travel period, which begins at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight Sunday.
For the 102-hour Thanksgiving holiday time frame, the Georgia State Patrol is estimating 3,285 crashes with 1,299 injuries. Last year during a similar 102-hour holiday period, there were 19 deaths, 3,510 crashes and 1,463 injuries reported.
The highest number of traffic deaths ever recorded in Georgia over the Thanksgiving holiday period was 43 in 1969. The lowest was four in 1949. During the past five years, 84 people have been killed on state roads over Thanksgiving.
Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said traffic is likely to be heavy and high visibility patrols will be out in force.
"Every available trooper and officer will be on patrol Wednesday and Sunday, the heaviest travel days of the holiday period," Hitchen said. "Among the violations they will be watching for are impaired drivers, speeders, people who are not wearing seat belts or buckling up children, and drivers who tailgate other motorists."
AAA Auto Club South is predicting 1.1 million Georgians will drive 50 miles or more over the holiday.
Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president for AAA Auto Club South, cautioned against "driver fatigue," warning to try a long drive home at night, particularly after a big meal.
"It's much safer for everyone to get a fresh start in the morning, rather than trying to drive when you feel sleepy,' Bakewell said.
The travel period coincides with Operation Click It or Ticket, the national high visibility seat belt enforcement program. During the two-week operation, which ends Sunday, officers are concentrating on drivers operating cars without seat belts or in violation of Georgia's child restraint law.
"Each holiday period, troopers and officers work fatal crashes where a person died and was not wearing a seat belt," Hitchens said. "Many would be alive today had they taken the two seconds to buckle up before their trip."