Deaths On Georgia’s Roadways Potentially On The Rise, Top Highway Safety Officials Warn

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Traffic fatalities in Georgia are expected to rise in Georgia in 2012, marking the first increase in the state’s traffic deaths in more than five years.

In light of the potential increase in deaths, Col. Mark McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, and Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, launched “Operation: Safe Holidays” Tuesday in a tour that they hope will stem the tide of rising traffic fatalities this year.

“Already, we have surpassed where we were this time last year and we have not even entered the holiday season, our busiest traffic period of the year,” Mr. Blackwood said. “We have to do everything in our power to hold that line and do everything in our power to make motorists pay attention to the deadly consequences of distracted and impaired driving and buckle up every trip, every time, from now until the end of the year. We simply cannot afford to lose another life on Georgia’s roads this year.”

The potential increase in road fatalities for 2012, if realized, would come after six consecutive years of decreasing fatality rates on Georgia’s roadways.

Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 15, 1,013 people died in motor vehicle crashes in Georgia. The rate of traffic fatalities this year is in line to exceed that of 2011, when 1,226 people died in motor vehicle crashes in Georgia.

Appearing together in five cities across the state, Mr. McDonough and Mr. Blackwood called attention to the increasing need for vigilance on Georgia’s roads in the final 41 days of the year, saying that saving a life is as simple as securing a seat belt.

“Wearing your seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to ensure you and your passengers arrive safely to your family’s Thanksgiving celebration,” said Col. McDonough. “It’s also an effective way to avoid getting stopped by law enforcement on your way home.”

Already, law enforcement officials across the state have been participating in Click-it or Ticket, a national campaign to enforce seat belt laws and save lives during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

“Fatal crashes frequently involve speed, an impaired driver, or the victim not being properly restrained,” Col. McDonough said, “and sometimes it is any combination of these contributing circumstances.” 

Mr. McDonough said traffic enforcement operations will reduce traffic crashes across the state. 

“We want everyone to enjoy the holiday period but make traffic safety the priority while you travel,” he added.

In 2010 alone, seat belts saved more than 12,500 lives nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Federal research also shows that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent.  Proper seat belt use reduces the risk of moderate to serious injuries by 50 percent.

Still, nearly 50 percent of the confirmed fatalities on Georgia’s roads this year were people who were not wearing a seat belt. And nearly 68,000 people across the state were cited for not wearing a seat belt during a 100-day enforcement campaign this past summer.

“While Georgia’s rate of seat belt use averages above 90 percent, nearly every week, there is a fatal crash involving a person who was not properly restrained,” said Mr. Blackwood. “Seat belt use is one of the few things we have control over in our lives. Neglecting it should never be a factor in our deaths.”

Tennessee Highway Safety Office Promotes National Drug Take Back Initiative

In efforts to prevent drugged-impaired driving statewide, the Tennessee Highway Safety Office encourages Tennesseans to participate in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back initiative on Saturday. THSO asks residents to dispose of unused and/or outdated prescription drugs to help prevent the illegal use and abuse of prescription drugs by ... (click for more)

Holiday Wreath-Laying To Honor Veterans Holds Ceremony On Dec. 17

Chattanooga National Cemetery will host Wreaths Across America, a holiday wreath-laying ceremony to honor and remember our nation’s Veterans on Saturday, Dec. 17 at noon at the cemetery 1200 Bailey Ave. The Civil Air Patrol, Chattanooga Composite Squadron, Veterans service organizations and citizens are coordinating the event to honor Veterans of each branch ... (click for more)

Domestic Assault Charge Dismissed Against Bobby Stone In Case Involving Mayor's Top Advisor; Stone Says Berke Had Inappropriate Relationship With His Wife; Says Berke And Fletcher Conspired To Arrest Him; Lacie Stone Says Charges Completely False

A charge of domestic assault was dismissed Friday morning against Bobby Stone in a case involving a top advisor to Mayor Andy Berke.  Afterward, Mr. Stone told reporters that the mayor had an inappropriate relationship with his wife, Lacie Stone. He also charged that Mayor Berke and Police Chief Fred Fletcher conspired to arrest him. Mr. Stone is expected to file ... (click for more)

Christopher Padgett Taken Into Custody

A Chattanooga man who went on the lam after cutting off his ankle monitor and failing to show up for the third day of his felony murder trial is back in custody. Christopher Padgett was arrested by Chattanooga Police in the 3200 block of South Street at 12:55 a.m.  He was taken into custody without incident and transported to the Hamilton County Jail for booking. ... (click for more)

Bobby Stone, Is It Really A Win?

It brought a smile to my face this morning when I saw where the case was thrown out of court against Mr. Stone and the domestic violence charge.  I have supported his cause from the beginning, but I do feel heartbreak because his personal life had to be tossed out there for all of us to see.   I truly hope and pray things turn around for him and his wife, while I feel ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Prayer Over Despair

As a strong proponent of early voting, I joined hundreds at the Hamilton County Election Commission headquarters on Amnicola Highway yesterday to exercise what I consider one of our greatest freedoms – “for the people, by the people.” Candidly, I have never been as upset or as disappointed over my choices for President in my life. Locally I am fine with our candidates but to pick ... (click for more)