No fatalities reported over holiday
'Operation Move Over' helping keep roads safe

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett police again registered zero fatalities over Memorial Day weekend this year, continuing a recent trend during one of the nation's busiest travel times.

The absence of deadly crashes has extended over at least the last three years, police said.

That could come as a surprise, given the sheer volume of interstate travelers on the long weekend. Orbitz found in 2007 that Memorial Day ranked behind only the Fourth of July - and three slots ahead of Thanksgiving - in terms of busiest travel times for Americans.

Gwinnett police on Tuesday credited a special weekend detail dubbed "Operation Move Over" with helping to safeguard the county's busiest artery, Interstate 85.

Over a three-hour stretch beginning late Saturday, a DUI task force and other personnel hawked the thoroughfare for drivers who shunned the so-called "Move Over law," a measure requiring drivers to either merge into the next lane or slow down when approaching parked emergency vehicles on Georgia highways.

Cpl. Illana Spellman, Gwinnett police spokeswoman, called the operation a success. It yielded 78 traffic stops, 79 citations and two DUI arrests. Police dished 54 educational pamphlets explaining the law to drivers.

The law, effective since July 2003, is applicable to any emergency vehicle parked on highway shoulders. First-time offenders can face fines of up to $500.

The operation also honored Gwinnett police Officer Chris Magill, a member of the DUI task force struck and killed by a drunk driver in 1993 on I-85. The Jimmy Carter Boulevard bridge that spans I-85 bears his name.

More than a fourth of officers killed are struck by passing vehicles while waiting outside their patrol cars. Those crashes kill more officers than any other cause of death, according to the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.