While December brings holiday cheer for most, the holiday season will unfortunately bring highway tragedy for some. The Christmas travel period can be deadly here in Georgia and across the country.
Our federal and state crash data show the travel period between Thanksgiving and New Year's is one of the most dangerous times on our roads.
Impaired driving is the reason. It's one of America's deadliest crimes. In 2008, 11,733 Americans died in highway crashes involving drivers with illegal blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 or higher.
Equally disturbing is that nearly one in four female drivers killed in crashes in 2008 had an illegal BAC.
That's why the Governor's Office of Highway Safety is joining with hundreds of highway safety partners across the state for this year's Operation Zero Tolerance holiday enforcement campaign. During this high-visibility program of sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols, drivers detected over the limit will be placed under arrest.
In Georgia, 24 people died during the 2008 Christmas travel period. The sad fact is one out of three of our fatal highway crashes each year is caused by impaired drivers.
Our message is simple: No matter who you are or what you drive, if you're caught driving impaired, you will be arrested. No warning tickets. No exceptions. No excuses.
Georgia experienced 7,814 alcohol-involved crashes in 2008. We're hoping this Operation Zero Tolerance holiday enforcement campaign will help keep those numbers from increasing in this final month of 2009.
Too many drivers don't realize the risks involved with driving impaired.
During holidays celebrations, spirits are high and travel increases across America.
Unfortunately, drunken driving is usually on the rise as well. Last year, 888 people were killed in crashes involving a driver with a BAC of 0.08 or above.
How can we stop these needless deaths?
This marks the fourth consecutive Christmas season that Georgia has mobilized thousands of traffic enforcement officers under the new "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" national DUI enforcement campaign. Many officers are working double shifts to help save more lives.
Georgia's statewide Operation Zero Tolerance holiday enforcement crackdown begins Friday, Dec. 18 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 3. It's not about revenue and it's not about writing more tickets.
We're telling motorists when to watch out for more flashing blue lights in their rear-view mirror because this campaign is truly about saving lives.
When we count our blessings this holiday season, we know we can count on our dedicated enforcement partners to run their concentrated patrols and sobriety checkpoints to protect the millions of innocent motorists who will take to the roads to visit families and friends this month.
Georgia's high visibility enforcement efforts are crucial to reduce impaired driving crashes and DUI deaths.
For more about Operation Zero Tolerance, visit the GOHS Web site at www.gahighwaysafety.org.
Director, Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety