A federal study released Thursday shows Georgia ranks below the national average and Southeastern states in alcohol-related traffic fatalities for 2011.
The data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that from 2010 to 2011, the state experienced 24 fewer traffic deaths, which accounts for a 1.9 percent reduction; and 22 fewer alcohol-impaired driving deaths, which represents a 7.4% reduction. Georgia was shown to be five percent better than the national average of total reduction in alcohol-related fatalities.
“This data just further indicates that Georgia’s aggressive enforcement of DUI law is working,” said Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “But this good news doesn’t mean we’ll ease up on our state’s impaired drivers. We have more work to do and we’ll continue to crack down on DUI’s 365 days a year.”
Overall from 2010 to 2011, the nation experienced 632 fewer traffic fatalities, which represents a 1.9 percent reduction. There were also 258 fewer alcohol-related driving deaths, which represents a 2.5 percent reduction.
Georgia, however, is still on track to experience an increase in fatalities for 2012 for the first time in six years. As of Thursday, Georgia has experienced 67 more traffic fatalities than at the same time last year. In total, the state experienced 1,236 traffic deaths in 2011.
These statistics are exactly why the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) is adding a special message to its annual holiday campaign of Operation Zero Tolerance, which begins Friday. In addition to reminding Georgia motorists that if they don’t drive sober, they’ll get pulled over, GOHS has also launched Operation Safe Holidays to ask our drivers to be extra careful on Georgia roads so the state doesn’t reach a six-year milestone of traffic deaths.
And statistics show, the holiday season isn’t just dangerous in Georgia. NHTSA data also shows that 2,597 people were killed in traffic crashes across the country in December 2010 and 775 of those were killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers.
While the loss of life is tragic enough, drunk driving can also create a tremendous financial burden. Statistics show that the average cost of a DUI can climb to nearly $10,000.
“The fact is that DUI’s are a drain on the state’s resources, the offender’s resources and the resources of any potential victim,” said Director Blackwood. “It’s imperative that Georgia motorists don’t continue their Christmas partying behind the wheel. Law enforcement all over the state will be cracking down on impaired drivers and they will not hesitate to send you to jail, even if it is Christmas.”
Georgia’s annual holiday campaign of Operation Zero Tolerance begins on Friday, and will last through New Year’s Day. For more information on enforcement activities in your community, contact your local law enforcement agency. For more information on Operation Zero Tolerance, visit www.gahighwaysafty.org