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Officials ask public to
drive safely this weekend

LAWRENCEVILLE - During last year's Fourth of July weekend in Georgia, 22 people lost their lives on the roads, 910 were injured and two of those 22 deaths were alcohol related.

There were 1,860 traffic crashes reported, too.

With this year's Independence Day holiday also falling on a weekend, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety is expecting more of the same.

"Anytime a holiday period falls on a weekend, there is an increased chance of encountering an alcohol impaired driver as you travel," Commissioner Col. Bill Hitchens said.

That's why he advises motorists to drive with caution.

"Minimize distractions in your vehicle and be alert should you be forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision," he said.

Hitchens also said this year's travel estimates for the holiday weekend, provided by the Crash Reporting Unit at the Georgia Department of Transportation, are for the state to have 1,874 crashes, 895 injuries and 22 fatalities.

In an effort to keep this year's counts low, Hitchens said Georgia state troopers and officers with the department's motor carrier compliance division will be conducting patrols in which they concentrate on the most common violations identified as contributing factors in fatal traffic crashes.

"Speeding, impaired driving and failing to wear occupant safety equipment top the list," he said.

Hitchens also advised motorists to report other motorists they might suspect as being impaired by calling *477 (Star G-S-P) from their cell phone.

This Fourth of July marks the 15th anniversary of the 'Star G-S-P' program.