Troopers expect 36 million travelers for Memorial Day

benw@ledger-enquirer.comMay 22, 2014 

Law enforcement agencies in Georgia and Alabama expect a busy Memorial Day weekend with 36.1 million people traveling more than 50 miles or more to kick off the summer driving season.

A forecast from AAA Travel projects that more than eight in 10 travelers will be driving to their destinations. Troopers will be patrolling the roadways in an effort to keep holiday crashes as low as possible, said Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. The holiday travel period starts at 6 p.m. today and ends at midnight Monday.

“Troopers and Motor Carrier Compliance officers will be conducting roadchecks, high-visibility patrols and concentrated patrols across the state during the holiday period,” McDonough said in a statement.

Last year, state troopers investigated 650 accidents with 366 injuries and six deaths. At least 310 people were arrested for driving under the influence.

In Alabama, officials across the state will work together to create a highly visible presence on roadways and to promote public safety throughout the holiday weekend and into the summer.

“Our goal is to reduce injuries and deaths by teaming together to serve and protect the citizens of Alabama,” said Spencer Collier, secretary of Law Enforcement.

Officials expect more than 45,000 graduating high school seniors to increase traffic on the roadways. As part of All American Buckle-Up Week across the nation, McDonough is encouraging everyone to use the seat belt and to make sure that children are properly restrained.

“Now through Memorial Day, state highway patrols and state police agencies from across the United States and Canada are joining together to educate the public on the importance of wearing seat belts while traveling in motor vehicles,” the commissioner said.

In addition to roadways, Sgt. Walter Lacey of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said his staff is expecting a nice turnout on lakes and other waterways.

“We are expecting a pretty nice turnout because summer has been a long time coming and we had a lot of people who hadn’t had a chance to enjoy it with last summer being so wet and winter being so long,” Lacey said Thursday. “We are looking to have a big turnout, being the unofficial start of summer anyway.”

Lacey said officers will be out in full force, but they won’t be looking for any specific trouble.

“It’s really going to focus on citizen safety,” he said. “We will be looking for pretty much anything that is going to cause someone to get injured. We are not out there for the sole purpose of putting anyone in jail or writing tickets solely, but we know we will be dealing with alcohol-related crimes as a whole.”

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