Holiday weekends usually mean congestion for the state’s roads and lakes, but this Memorial Day weekend was less troublesome than years past.
"Across the state, our troopers in the field reported less traffic than normal," Senior Trooper Larry Schnall said.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety reported 2,480 automobile crashes which resulted in 721 injuries and 12 deaths. Hall County reported 226 wrecks over the holiday weekend, but none were fatal.
"We anticipated 2,300 traffic crashes, and we had estimated 19 people could die," he said. "We were under on our fatalities."
The lower volume of traffic could be caused by fewer people wanting to travel with historically high gas prices toeing the $4 line.
"We were prepared for the worst case scenario, which would have been lots and lots of traffic and congested roadways," Schnall said. "But we feel like fuel prices may have had an effect on traffic."
Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell also said he thought the high price of gas may have caused the calm weekend.
"That’s everybody’s speculation," he said. "It was very quiet on the lake. We actually had a good weekend."
Much quieter, in fact, than Memorial Day weekend last year.
This year, there were four boating incidents that resulted in two minor injuries and no deaths, and five people were charged with boating under the influence, said Rick Lavender, a public affairs coordinator with the Department of Natural Resources.
Over Memorial Day weekend in 2007, there were five boating incidents that resulted in one death. There was also one drowning death and 12 people charged with boating under the influence.
Among the few incidents reported at Lake Lanier this weekend was a fire on a cabin cruiser Sunday at Holiday Marina. According to Hall County Fire Services officials, the owner of the 30-foot-long cruiser had just filled the boat with gas when a fire started in the engine. Though damage to the boat made it a total loss, there were no major injuries.
Another factor that could have contributed to the calm holiday weekend is the low water level at Lake Lanier.
Due to the current drought, the lake is 13 feet below full pool, which is 1,071 feet above sea level. The lake typically is 11 feet higher on Memorial Day.
"It seems that gas prices and low water conditions definitely played a role in that," speculated Mike Burgamy, sergeant supervisor for Lake Lanier.
Burgamy said traffic on the lake was "absolutely" lighter this Memorial Day weekend.
"As far as boating activity, I’ve been on this lake 14 years, and there’s definitely a big, big difference in boating activity."
Some state agencies worked with media to release public service announcements, and would like to think their messages of caution reached the masses.
"We feel that our enforcement with high visibility patrols and our education and public service announcements hopefully got people’s attention to slow down, not drink and drive and buckle up," Schnall said.