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Police to be out in full force

LAWRENCEVILLE - Last year, a record-setting 32 people died and many more were injured while driving in Georgia on Memorial Day Weekend. Two of those 32 fatalities occurred in Gwinnett County.

In an effort to avoid a repeat of that tragic weekend, state troopers, sheriff's deputies and police officers will maintain an even stronger presence on highways this year, said Jim Shuler, spokesman for the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. Even so, state officials predict 2,401 traffic crashes resulting in 18 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries will occur over the 72-hour holiday driving period that begins at 6 p.m. today and ends at midnight Monday.

"Our goal is to intercept dangerous drivers before they can cause a fatal crash," said Georgia State Patrol spokesman Col. Bill Hitchens. "We will have every available trooper and officer on patrol during the heaviest travel periods of the weekend targeting impaired drivers, occupant protection violations and aggressive drivers."

All drivers and passengers should be prepared to encounter safety belt checkpoints over the next few days as part of the national "Click It Or Ticket" campaign. This weekend also marks the start of Georgia's "100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T." initiative, which over the next three months will include roving patrols and road checks for drunken drivers, speeders and unbuckled drivers.