State troopers gear up for weekend effort

State troopers are stepping up patrols for impaired drivers across Georgia this weekend to try to curb traffic deaths.

The enforcement effort will include regular patrol, concentrated patrol in problem areas and road checks throughout the state, Georgia State Patrol Lt. Paul Cosper said.

“That poor choice that people make changes lives in a second,” Cosper said of impaired driving.

In a vehicular homicide, not only is a life lost, but the lives are forever changed of the victim’s family, the impaired driver and his or her family, Cosper noted.

The enforcement effort is part of the National LifeSaving Weekend, which officially kicks off the annual enforcement campaign for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods.

The effort starts Friday to draw attention to the national “Lights on for Life Day,” in which troopers across the country are expected to keep headlights on during the day.

The idea is to draw attention to the dangers of drinking and driving, Cosper said.

Cosper urged residents to be responsible and not drink and drive. He also urged those throwing holiday parties where alcohol is served to ensure that any guests who become impaired either spend the night or are given a ride home.

Impaired drivers may be reported to GSP by calling Star G-S-P (*477).

The Christmas holiday travel period begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday and ends at midnight Dec. 28.

More than 2,900 accidents, nearly 1,500 injuries and 19 fatalities are projected for the period by the GSP and the Crash Reporting Unit of the state Department of Public Safety.

The 2007 final count for the same period was 3,039 accidents, 1,158 injuries and 18 fatalities.

The New Year’s holiday travel period starts at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and ends at midnight Jan. 4.

Projections of accidents, injuries and fatalities for that period have not been estimated yet.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.