Faced with back-to-back, 102-hour holiday periods, the Georgia State Patrol is preparing for holiday patrols that will concentrate on impaired drivers.

GSP Commander Col. George Ellis said troopers will work with local law enforcement officers to make holiday travel safe and hopefully keep traffic deaths below projections.

Ellis said the Christmas holiday period begins today at 6 p.m. and continues through midnight Dec. 28. Traffic predictions from GSP and the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety are for 2,901 traffic crashes during the Christmas holiday period resulting in 745 injuries and 17 fatalities.

The New Year's holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and continues through midnight Jan. 4. For the New Year's traffic period, the predictions are for 2,843 crashes, 704 injuries and 16 traffic deaths.

GSP is participating with other law enforcement agencies throughout the state in Operation Zero Tolerance. The high visibility enforcement program targets impaired drivers through saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints throughout the state.

Ellis advises motorists to plan holiday activities carefully. The GSP commander also reminds motorists to wear seatbelts.

Last year during the 30-hour Christmas holiday period, there were 865 traffic crashes, 224 injuries and five deaths recorded. During the New Year's holiday period, six people died, 256 people were injured and there were 971 crashes reported.

The highest number of Christmas deaths occurred in 1971 when 36 people were killed and the lowest occurred in 1982 and 2002 with five deaths. For New Year's, the highest occurred in 1981 and 1987 with 23 deaths and the lowest occurred in 1947 and 1958 when Georgia recorded only three deaths.

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