Deaths On Georgia’s Roadways Potentially On The Rise, Top Highway Safety Officials Warn

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Traffic fatalities in Georgia are expected to rise in Georgia in 2012, marking the first increase in the state’s traffic deaths in more than five years.

In light of the potential increase in deaths, Col. Mark McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, and Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, launched “Operation: Safe Holidays” Tuesday in a tour that they hope will stem the tide of rising traffic fatalities this year.

“Already, we have surpassed where we were this time last year and we have not even entered the holiday season, our busiest traffic period of the year,” Mr. Blackwood said. “We have to do everything in our power to hold that line and do everything in our power to make motorists pay attention to the deadly consequences of distracted and impaired driving and buckle up every trip, every time, from now until the end of the year. We simply cannot afford to lose another life on Georgia’s roads this year.”

The potential increase in road fatalities for 2012, if realized, would come after six consecutive years of decreasing fatality rates on Georgia’s roadways.

Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 15, 1,013 people died in motor vehicle crashes in Georgia. The rate of traffic fatalities this year is in line to exceed that of 2011, when 1,226 people died in motor vehicle crashes in Georgia.

Appearing together in five cities across the state, Mr. McDonough and Mr. Blackwood called attention to the increasing need for vigilance on Georgia’s roads in the final 41 days of the year, saying that saving a life is as simple as securing a seat belt.

“Wearing your seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to ensure you and your passengers arrive safely to your family’s Thanksgiving celebration,” said Col. McDonough. “It’s also an effective way to avoid getting stopped by law enforcement on your way home.”

Already, law enforcement officials across the state have been participating in Click-it or Ticket, a national campaign to enforce seat belt laws and save lives during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period.

“Fatal crashes frequently involve speed, an impaired driver, or the victim not being properly restrained,” Col. McDonough said, “and sometimes it is any combination of these contributing circumstances.” 

Mr. McDonough said traffic enforcement operations will reduce traffic crashes across the state. 

“We want everyone to enjoy the holiday period but make traffic safety the priority while you travel,” he added.

In 2010 alone, seat belts saved more than 12,500 lives nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Federal research also shows that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent.  Proper seat belt use reduces the risk of moderate to serious injuries by 50 percent.

Still, nearly 50 percent of the confirmed fatalities on Georgia’s roads this year were people who were not wearing a seat belt. And nearly 68,000 people across the state were cited for not wearing a seat belt during a 100-day enforcement campaign this past summer.

“While Georgia’s rate of seat belt use averages above 90 percent, nearly every week, there is a fatal crash involving a person who was not properly restrained,” said Mr. Blackwood. “Seat belt use is one of the few things we have control over in our lives. Neglecting it should never be a factor in our deaths.”


Wade Hinton Launches Web Portal Designed To Help Increase Diversity On Boards

Chattanooga is a very diverse city with the population accounting for 51 percent women and close to 40 percent people of color.  Recognizing that most of the area non-profit boards did not accurately reflect the diversity of the Chattanooga community as a result of having a difficult time in finding diverse talent, community leader and attorney Wade Hinton created  Board ... (click for more)

Weekly Road Construction Report

Here is the weekly road construction report for Hamilton County:  U.S. 27 (I-124) widening from I-24/U.S. 27 interchange to north of the Olgiati Bridge over the Tennessee River, including widening the Olgiati Bridge:  Work on this project continues.  The speed limit on U.S. 27 in the construction zone is 45 MPH.  The contractor may have temporary lane or shoulder ... (click for more)

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson Booked At County Jail; Says He Is Not Guilty

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson was booked at the Bradley County Jail Friday morning. He faces six separate charges of altering/falsifying/forging a title plate assignment. Sheriff Watson, a former state legislator, posted a $30,000 bond. He issued this statement, "For more than a year, I have confronted numerous accusations from some who desire to have more control ... (click for more)

County School Board Members, Rep. Favors Rap State Take-Over Plans For Low Performing Schools; New Superintendent To Come Up With Community Plan

County School Board members at a Thursday work session took turns rapping a state take-over plan for low performing schools. New Supt. Bryan Johnson said he will work over the next 30-45 days to come up with a community proposal for strengthening the iZone schools. He said, "I'm not sold myself" on some of the aspects of a proposed state partnership with the school district. ... (click for more)

Do Something To Protect Our Children

It is unconscionable in this day and age that these children had to exist in such deplorable conditions and that an innocent baby suffered and died alone in a locked car.  Yes, there is blame and accountability considering this family had child neglect charges filed a few years ago (that were apparently dropped and expunged) and a large part of the responsibility should ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: School Board Shoves Back

The Hamilton County School Board, told that ‘no’ was not an option three months ago when state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen arrived to take over five floundering public schools, may have to ask the Governor to call out the Tennessee Guard. A very vocal School Board shoved a bitter ultimatum right back into McQueen’s lap during a work session Thursday night and showed it ... (click for more)