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Police urge safe driving during holidays

LAWRENCEVILLE -- So far in 2009, 49 people have died in vehicle accidents in Gwinnett. Police say some of those could have been prevented.

That's why they are urging motorists to drive safely this holiday season, and why they say they'll be out in force, enforcing laws and educating the public.

Two of the biggest contributing factors, said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli, are excessive speed and not wearing a seatbelt. Schiralli recommends everyone inside a vehicle buckle up and that the driver obeys posted speed limits, especially at night or when driving in unfamiliar areas.

Another hazard, police say, is distracted driving.

"The department also suggests that people refrain from texting while driving or any other behavior that would distract a driver," Schiralli said.

Of the 49 deaths, seven involved pedestrians. Police said the major contributing factor in these incidents is crossing poorly lit roadways, at night, outside of designated crosswalks.

Schiralli said when walking at night, a person should wear bright-colored clothes or reflective material, avoid walking near the edge of the road and use crosswalks, when possible.