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Authorities: Memorial Day fatal accidents down again

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Knock on wood. Gwinnett County is nearing the half-decade mark in its streak of zero Memorial Day weekend traffic fatalities.

For at least the fourth year running, Gwinnett's highways and streets were bereft of fatal wrecks during one of the nation's busiest travel times, authorities said.

Statewide, traffic injuries and deaths were below the Georgia Department of Public Safety's predictions for the long weekend.

Between 6 p.m. Friday and midnight Monday, the department logged four traffic deaths and 637 injuries after estimating nearly four times as many deaths and 59 more injuries. Total crashes were nearly 600 above the estimated 1,972, however.

Traffic deaths dropped 75 percent from the 16 reported in 2009, the department said.

An accurate crash count for Gwinnett wasn't available Monday, but no significant accidents were reported, said Gwinnett police spokesman Officer Brian Kelly. Police across the county made about 40 DUI arrests over the three-day period.

The sheer volume of interstate travelers on the long weekend prompted special traffic initiatives elsewhere in Georgia. Orbitz found in 2007 that Memorial Day ranks behind only the Fourth of July -- and three slots ahead of Thanksgiving -- in terms of busiest travel times for Americans.

Gwinnett police dished out 79 citations during an initiative called "Operation Move Over" over the holiday weekend last year.

Kelly said a similar operation held on major Gwinnett highways May 22 resulted in 65 citations, including four DUI and four no-license arrests.

The special operation targets drivers who ignore 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.

Kelly said Gwinnett police will partner with other agencies and pool together various units for special operations during peak summer travel months, such as the classic initiatives "Click It or Ticket" and "Over the Limit. Under Arrest."

"Each will be aimed at educating drivers and making our roadways a safer place," he said.