May 22, 2019          
Robert Hydrick
Communications Manager
404-463-1715 (o) | 404-859-0141 (c)

Mark McKinnon
Public Affairs Officer
DNR Law Enforcement Division
770-918-6414 (o) || 404-387-7780 (c)
Play It Safe This Summer On the Road and Water
"Belts and Buoys Tour " reminds everyone to wear their seat belts on the road and life vests on the water
(ATLANTA) -  The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Department of Natural Resources are urging everyone to put safety first by clicking their seat belts and life vests when traveling on the road or the water.

The three agencies are once again teaming up to deliver their message with the annual "Belts & Buoys" tour which takes place prior to the start of the Memorial Day Holiday weekend when many Georgians are expected to be traveling on the first unofficial weekend of the summer.

"During your Memorial Day holiday travels, a simple click will bring safety to your trip by making sure you and your loved ones are properly restrained by the use of seat belts," Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough said. "Georgia's law on distracted driving is clear and "hands-free" means your hands should be on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road. If alcohol is part of your plan, then don't get behind the wheel but call a cab, ride share, or a sober friend to take you home. Don't be an impaired driver."  

The Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies will be working over the holiday weekend to prevent crashes through the enforcement of state and local traffic laws. 

Their enforcement efforts made a difference as the number of traffic deaths during last year's holiday weekend was 55 percent lower than for the same time period in 2017. According to the Georgia State Patrol, there were eight traffic deaths during last year's 78-hour holiday weekend that began at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 25 and ended at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 28, compared to 18 for the same time period in 2017.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts saved almost 15,000 lives in the United States in 2017 and can reduce the risk of fatal injury in front seat passengers by as much as 45 percent. While Georgia has one of the highest daytime observed seat belt use rates in the nation, more than half of the people killed in vehicle deaths in the state last year were not buckled.

"When you are boarding a ride at an amusement park, the first thing you do is fasten that seat belt and likely ask the attendant to make sure you are safely secured," Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole said.  "We need to have that same mentality when we get in our vehicle by making sure that everyone is wearing their seat belt and all children under 8 are riding in a properly installed child passenger seat as Georgia law requires."

Game wardens with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources will also be busy as the holiday weekend is also the first time many people will be on the water in their boat or other watercraft.

The DNR will be on Georgia lakes throughout the summer conducting safety equipment checks and enforcing the Georgia's B.U.I. law.

Game wardens are looking to lower the number of deaths on Georgia waterways for a second consecutive year. In 2018, the D.N.R. investigated 57 drownings and 125 boating incidents that resulted in 10 deaths compared to 63 drownings and 15 fatalities in 135 boating incidents in 2017.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of wearing life jackets and seat belts, following the laws of the state, and practicing common courtesy, whether on the waterways or the highways,” said Colonel Thomas Barnard, director of Georgia DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “Just doing those things will greatly increase the likelihood of avoiding a potentially tragic incident. Have fun this summer, but do it safely.”

The Georgia State Patrol and Governor's Office of Highway Safety offer these safety trips for those who will be traveling by vehicle:
  • Leave early.  The high volume of traffic during the weekend will add to normal trip times.
  • Don't try to make up time by speeding.
  • Make sure everyone is wearing their seat belt before getting on the road.
  • Georgia's Hands-free law means it is illegal for drivers to have a phone in their hand or on  their body.
  • Take breaks and alternate drivers if possible on long trips.
  • If planning to drink alcohol, plan ahead for a sober ride - don't get behind the wheel.
AAA’s Tow-To-Go program will once again provide free rides and tows up to 10 miles for those who believe they are too impaired to drive in Georgia from Friday, May 24 until 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 28.   The number to call is 855-2-TOW-2-GO or 855-286-9246.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources offer these safety tips for those who are going to be boating or swimming:
  • Inspect your boat/watercraft and safety equipment before you put it in the water.
  • Make sure children are wearing life vests at all times on the water.
  • Keep your eyes on children at all times when they are swimming.
  • Marginal swimmers or those who don't know how to swim should always wear a life vest.
  • Do not operate a boat/watercraft or go swimming when consuming alcohol.
  • Be alert and do not operate a vessel while distracted.
  • Take a boater education class and swim lessons.
  • Know, obey and follow navigation and traffic rules and laws.
For more information, please follow the Georgia Department of Public Safety, Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division and Governor's Office of Highway Safety on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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