DOT: Still on track to be deadliest year on roads since 2006
ATLANTA, Ga. - After another deadly holiday weekend in Georgia, we're on track for 2015 to be the deadliest year in nearly a decade. The state patrol says ten more people were killed in crashes during the 78-hour Labor Day Holiday, which brings the number of people killed this year to 873.
The Drive Alert, Arrive Alive campaign was launched in May, to get the word out about the tragic number of people dying on Georgia roadways. DOT says they were seeing some improvement, but the deadly weekend may have set them back.
For the first time in nine years, Georgia is facing the threat of an increase in fatalities. "We're on trend to reach 1200 for the first time in that 9 years," says DOT spokesperson Natalie Dale.
On Friday night, the car carrying Floyd County educators Christi Mooney and Marsha Coleman was struck by a pickup truck. Georgia State Patrol says Ricardo Clarke crossed the center line and hit them. All three people were killed.
"As of this time last week, we had 90 more fatalities than we had at this time last year. That's 90 people that didn't go home to their families...that's a mother, a father, a child who died on our roads in Georgia," Dale says.
Since May the Drive Alert, Arrive Alive campaign has been all over Georgia, with billboards, electronic signs and a social media push. "Everyone thinks they're invincible until it happens to them, or happens to someone they know," adds Dale.
DOT says a drastic number of wrecks this year have been single vehicle crashes, meaning the driver is somehow distracted. "Another car wasn't running into another car, that car ran off the road or that car ran into a tree or bridge, so it's a single vehicle collision, which means something happened in that car that distracted the driver," explains Dale.
While they can't prove it in every case, one of the biggest problems is no doubt, cell phones. "There's a lot of things going on our roadways and we don't need other distractions like phones, putting on your makeup, eating food, etc. These things seem silly and simple and like it couldn't cost you your life but the truth is...we're seeing distracted driving costing people their lives in Georgia," adds Dale.
Drowsy driving also seems to be on the rise this year, while seat belt usage seems to be down. DOT says, in more than half of the fatalities, people weren't wearing their seat belts. Remember the campaign is simply 3 things: Buckle up, don't text and drive and drive alert so you and your family arrive alive.
Dale says we're doing slightly better than the national average right now, but not by much. So far this year, Georgia has been floating around an 11 to 14 percent increase while the national average is floating between 14 and 16 percent.