Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

July 2, 2014

July 4: Freedom and safety

VALDOSTA — With the Fourth of July on Friday, this will be a long weekend for many people. Three days of free time, and a whole lot of time for fun, family, and friends for a long Fourth.

The Georgia State Patrol also considers the Independence Day weekend a long one — running from 6 p.m. Thursday, July 3, to midnight Sunday, July 6. As the GSP declaring a timeline suggests, it is also a period when people could face many hazards.

During this period, GSP troopers will team with law-enforcement agencies across the state for concentrated patrols and roadchecks looking for impaired drivers on state roads during the holiday period.

“Troopers will be watching for impaired drivers, seat belt and child restraint violations, and speeders,” said Col. Mark W. McDonough, Georgia Department of Public Safety commissioner.

Last year, the holiday period was 102 hours long. The GSP investigated 1,150 traffic crashes that resulted in 564 injuries, and five fatalities.

Additionally, troopers issued 9,849 citations, 18,477 warnings, and made 359 DUI arrests.

“Obey the posted speed limit, check that everyone is wearing a seat belt, and avoid distractions inside your vehicle,” McDonough said. “Careful planning is the key to a safe holiday weekend. Keep safety a priority.”

Fireworks are another concern of the Fourth. Georgians have long celebrated Independence Day with firecrackers, bottle rockets and other fireworks, even when most of these items were illegal in the state.

With sparklers and non-explosive fireworks legal in Georgia, users should remember to use caution while handling these items.

Readers can find more information on fireworks safety in this edition.

With freedom comes responsibility.

Whether that responsibility is the duties of citizens of a free nation or as folks with a little extra free time for a holiday, we should do all within our power to have a happy and safe Fourth.

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