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Stay safe in Georgia - and not only

Safety officials are warning motorists traveling on Georgia’s highway this holiday season to make sure they’re driving safe. The states annual program Operation Zero Tolerance re-launched for the holiday and Georgia participates in the ‘Click it or Ticket’ national campaign but they are taking an extra step this year. Operation Safe Holidays is a statewide tour educating communities on the tenants of safe driving. This comes as the state is expected to have an increase in their traffic fatalities, something that hasn’t happened in six years. For the past five years, Georgia’s traffic fatalities have dropped except this year when things picked up. If the deaths continue at the current rate, Georgia will go over the 2011 number: 1,226.

On November 15, deaths had reached 1,033 and projections don’t predict a slowdown unless drivers

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make a difference. There could possibly be five deaths each day over the entirety of Georgia for the rest of the year, meaning just over 200 more death could occur. While the state is in the throes of its zero tolerance policy, click it or ticket, and they also have a ban on texting, the responsibility lies with the driver to be responsible while on the road. Colonel Mark McDonough, Commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Safety said, “Drivers should wear their seatbelt, not drink and drive and observe speeds limits; Keep yourself and your parents’ and your kids’ and your grandparents’ safety at heart. Don’t spend this holiday season at the funeral home.”

With many people traveling to see family this holiday season, Col. McDonough words might resonate a little stronger. Not only will becoming a safe driver protect you and your loved ones but by avoiding accidents, you help keep your car insurance premiums down. You might need that extra money after this holiday season! Here are some steps you can take to make sure you are taking the necessary safety precautions on the road.

Don’t Drink and Drive

This is obvious. Alcohol causes impairment and inhibits someone’s driving skills. Over the course of the holiday, it is highly likely that you may take in more cocktails than normal. You have multiple friends’ parties to attend and you might feel you need that extra drink to get you through the family dinner. But if you imbibe, don’t drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) said that alcohol led to 11,773 deaths in 2008. Ask a sober friend to take you home or call a taxi. A DUI is an expensive gift from law enforcement and once your insurance company finds out what you got, they will generously add to your fees and fines.

Don’t Speed

The holidays can be a stressful time, especially when you are having to accommodate several families’ schedules and the last thing you want to do is be late for an event. But don’t speed. If you get pulled over, you will be later than you originally would have been if you had gone the speed limit. Even one ticket can raise your premium and a habitual offender will likely skyrocket those prices. And that’s not the worst that can happen. According to the NHTSA, speeding is one of the most common factors that cause accidents and for every mile driven over the speed limit, your chances of crashing become higher. These aren’t the kind of memories you want to create this season.

Don’t Drive Distracted

This is an issue that many states now have to deal with. As phones have become smarter, drivers have become distracted and the urge to answer that email while driving down the highway can be a strong one. Avoid it at all costs. Because that email or text message you decide to send may end up costing you more than your data plan. Driving distracted can not only warrant a police officer to pull you over but it can cause a crash. While texting and talking on a cell phone are one of the most prevalent, dangerous forms of distraction, it can take on other forms. Things such as lecturing your children in the rearview mirror, changing a radio station, or speaking with someone in the passenger seat can cause a

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distraction. Remember that you are operating a large piece of machinery and should be focused at all times.

Wear Your Seatbelt

This is another area where Georgia and other states have started to crack down on drivers. Some drivers choose not to wear their seatbelts, citing issues such as comfort and restriction but this is one area where an hour or two of being uncomfortable could literally save your life. NHTSA sources say that more than half of accident fatalities involve people who were not wearing the seat belt properly or not at all. Just putting the lap band on does not count as a proper way of wearing a seatbelt.

A seatbelt’s purpose is to restrain anyone in the case of an accident, preventing them from going headfirst into the dashboard or worse, being ejected from the car. Both incidents can cause serious injuries. On top of all this, you can often get ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt as a primary offense and your insurance company will not look kindly upon this. Driving without a seatbelt is considered a risky habit and that ticket might make your premiums go up. If it’s in conjunction with a ticket for improper driving or speeding, you will certain to pay higher fees.

Don’t combine bad behavior driving. Many times, a driver will not wear their seat belt and talk on the phone which only exponentially increases their chances for a serious accident. Georgia is doing what it can to educate its citizens on the responsibilities of driving but it has to begin with you. Safe drivers are the number one way to prevent any kind of accidents this holiday season and if you drive safely, you can avoid a lump of coal from your insurance company.