Memorial Day Weekend Kicks-Off Busy Summer Travel Season

The Memorial Day holiday weekend kicks-off the beginning of a busy summer travel season across Georgia and the nation.  As motorists begin making travel arrangements, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) reminds drivers to plan their trips carefully and remember to make safety a priority. 

This year’s holiday travel period begins Friday, May 24, at 6:00 p.m., and ends Monday, May 27, at 11:59 p.m. Troopers and Officers will be on high-visibility patrols on the interstates, state routes, and local streets keeping an eye out for impaired drivers and other traffic violations that could potentially cause a crash.

“We encourage everyone to enjoy time with their friends and families over the holiday period, but please remember to put safety first.  Slow down, obey the speed limit, be a courteous driver, and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination,” said Colonel William W. Hitchens, III, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “We encourage drivers to focus on driving and minimizing distractions, especially cell phones. Distracted driving can result in serious, even fatal, consequences.  Also, remember to make seat belt and child safety restraint use a priority.”  Colonel Hitchens added “Please be responsible this Memorial Day weekend.  The consequences of drinking and driving can be devastating.  Protect yourself and others by choosing not to drive if you’ve been drinking.  Make sure you have a safe way to get home without getting behind the wheel.”

During the 2023 Memorial Day holiday, Troopers issued more than 13,000 citations, made more than 380 DUI arrests, and investigated over 500 crashes that resulted in over 300 injuries and 11 fatalities.   

The highest number of traffic deaths during a Memorial Day holiday weekend occurred in 1969, when 27 people died in traffic crashes.  1969 was also the first year the Department of Public Safety (DPS) began keeping statistics on the Memorial Day holiday period.

DPS will update the holiday traffic count on all social media platforms throughout the holiday weekend.

DPS wants everyone to arrive safely at their destinations. Here are some travel tips to keep you and your loved ones safe as you travel this weekend.

  • Observe the posted speed limit. When you exceed the speed limit, you reduce the amount of time needed to avoid a traffic crash.
  • Observe all traffic laws and signals. Traffic laws and signals exist for your safety; failure to obey them can result in crashes that may seriously injure or kill you or others.
  • Do not drive impaired. Designate a sober driver, call a taxi, rideshare service, friend, or family member to get you home safely.
  • Make sure everyone in the vehicle wears a seatbelt. Also, properly install child safety seats. Georgia law requires children under the age of eight to be in either a car seat or booster seat suitable for their age, weight, and height.
  • Show common courtesy to other motorists and pedestrians on the roads. Be mindful of your fellow motorists, especially the most vulnerable, pedestrians and cyclists. Stop at all stop signs, traffic signals and crosswalks, and check your blind spots.
  • Pay attention to large trucks and buses. Leave extra space when merging in front of these large vehicles, anticipate wide turns, stay a safe distance back, signal clearly when merging in front of, or passing, and be patient.
  • Do not drive distracted. Refrain from performing any activity that may take your focus off the road, such as texting while driving. On July 1, 2018, the Hands-Free Georgia Act became effective. It prohibits all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.  A link to the complete law can be found on the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety website at www.gahighwaysafety.org.
  • If you need assistance on the roadway, you can dial 511 to request CHAMP (Coordinated Highway Assistance and Maintenance Program), a free service courtesy of the Georgia Department of Transportation covering interstates outside of metro Atlanta (except I-59 and I-24).  You can also dial 511 to request HERO (Highway Emergency Response Operators) for assistance in the Metro-Atlanta area.  CHAMP and HERO assists stranded motorists, changes tires, maintains traffic flow, and identifies several maintenance issues.  For more information and to view traffic cameras, please download the 511 Georgia app or visit www.511ga.org.

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