The Fourth of July is a favorite holiday for many as friends and family gather to celebrate America with food, parades, parties and fireworks. However, for some, the holiday will go from festive to fatal when they choose to get behind the wheel after drinking. To help prevent needless tragedy, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is once again joining the national impaired driving effort to get drunk drivers off the road and into a jail cell.
To crack down on drunk driving this Fourth of July, law enforcement across the state will be out in full force, aggressively targeting those who put lives in danger by being impaired behind the wheel. In Georgia, GOHS will launch Operation Zero Tolerance in conjunction with the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. If you’re over the limit, you’ll be under arrest.
“This July 4th holiday, you can show your patriotism by helping to make Georgia’s roads safer for everyone by driving sober or making sure you have a sober ride home,” said GOHS Director Harris Blackwood. “Drunk driving is a zero tolerance offense. No warnings. You will be arrested and you will go to jail. We repeat this message every year because it’s true.”
The good news is Fourth of July travel period crash and injury rates decreased slightly over the last year, but they were still far too high. Similarly, fatality rates remained even with six over a 30-hour travel period in 2012 and 20 over a 102-hour travel period in 2013. GOHS will continue Operation Zero Tolerance until those numbers reach zero.
“We are still experiencing one traffic fatality every five hours in Georgia during what is supposed to be a fun, summer holiday,” said GOHS Director Harris Blackwood. “That means there are 20 people who won’t be celebrating our nation’s independence this year.”
This year, Operation Zero Tolerance starts on June 20 and runs through July 6. The Fourth of July travel period with be a 78-hour period from July 3 to July 6.
This holiday travel period is not only dangerous here in Georgia. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows this time of year is particularly deadly nationwide. In 2012, 179 people were killed in crashes between 6 p.m. on July 3 and 5:59 a.m. on July 5. Furthermore, 44 percent of those fatal crashes involved alcohol impairment. Twenty eight percent of those crashes involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a Blood Alcohol Content of .15 or higher, which is almost twice the .08 legal limit in all 50 states.
These crashes are also disproportionately occurring at night. During that same 2012 holiday travel period, more than a third (39 percent) of drivers in nighttime fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired, as compared to 16 percent of drivers in fatal crashes during the day.
For more information on Operation Zero Tolerance, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org.