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Law enforcement promotes holiday safety
Fireworks, alcohol and travel can be ingredients for danger
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Local law enforcement leaders remind people to be safe over the three-day July Fourth weekend. - photo by Special to the Herald

While most will spend the holiday weekend relaxing and enjoying picnics, family gatherings and fireworks, law enforcement will be on extra patrol to ensure the public's safety.

Traveling, using fireworks that are now legal for private use in Georgia, and social scenes where alcohol maybe present pose safety risks. Local law enforcement leaders remind people to observe safety precautions as they focus on the fun, three-day holiday weekend.

According to information released by Georgia State Patrol Post 45 Sgt. David M. Bryant, the July Fourth holiday travel period began at 6 p.m. Friday and will end at midnight on Monday. Troopers will be on full patrol during peak travel times.

"The Georgia State Patrol encourages everyone to celebrate the July Fourth holiday responsibly. Troopers will be conducting road checks and high visibility patrols across the state during the holiday period watching for impaired drivers, seat belt use violators, and other traffic violations that could potentially cause a traffic crash," he said in a released statement.

Statesboro police and Bulloch County sheriff's deputies will also be on increased patrol, especially around Mill Creek Regional Park in Statesboro during the Firecracker Fest from 5 p.m. to around 10 p.m.

According to The Associated Press, travelers drove more last year during the July Fourth holiday, and traffic deaths surged. In 2015, during a similar travel period, Georgia state troopers investigated 554 traffic crashes over the July Fourth weekend that resulted in 277 injuries and four traffic fatalities, Bryant said.

In addition to the traffic crash investigations, troopers arrested 343 people for driving under the influence while issuing 8,666 citations and 13,730 warnings, he said.

"This holiday period, the Georgia State Patrol is participating in the Operation Zero Tolerance campaign, a nationwide mobilization against impaired drivers. State troopers will be working alongside sheriff's deputies and police officers to apprehend impaired drivers. Driving impaired is a serious crime."

Common-sense tips to be safe include wearing seat belts, obeying speed limits and not driving while distracted or impaired.

"Put the cellphones down," said Statesboro police Sgt. Jake Saxon. "Be patient and pay attention, especially during the traffic at the Firecracker Fest."

Bulloch County sheriff's Chief Deputy Jared Akins reminds those who drink not to drive.

"If you drink, get a designated driver," he said.

If you see someone intoxicated who needs a ride, give them one, Saxon added.

Traffic is not the only safety concern during the holidays. With fireworks now being legal for private use in Georgia, the possibility of injury is increased, Akins said.

"Be mindful of safety when using fireworks, and please do not discharge firearms into the air. What goes up will come down," he said, reminding people of the dangers of randomly fired bullets.

Domestic violence also often increases during holidays, mainly due to alcohol use, he said.

"People are off work, and (most domestic calls) are alcohol related."

Other crimes such as burglaries sometimes increase during holidays, and both Akins and Saxon remind citizens to lock homes and vehicles and secure valuables in a safe place if they plan to leave home for the weekend.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.



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