Traffic deaths increase as Memorial Day travel wraps up - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Traffic deaths increase as Memorial Day travel wraps up

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Nearly half of the 40 million Memorial Day travelers hit the road Monday to wrap up the long weekend. The bad part of all that travel is an increase in traffic deaths.

Troopers said a concerted effort to increase their presence made our roads safer in the Coastal Empire. None of the deadly accidents happened around Savannah.

The number of travelers is the most since 2005.

"Traffic going up and down I-95 has been congested and making stops and everything has been busy,” said driver Yolanda Massey.

Thankfully, law enforcers spent their holiday weekend keeping us safe. In total, 17 people died in the four-day travel period across Georgia.

Aggressive policing caught a lot of speeding, drunk and distracted drivers.

"We've arrested approximately 30 drunk drivers since Friday night beginning at 8 o'clock, several traffic citations, lots of traffic stops,” said Sgt. JK Crews with the Georgia State Patrol.

Troopers said this year's Operation Rolling Thunder in Savannah likely played a role in keeping our area safe. All the traffic deaths were in other parts of the state.

"I definitely think that's made a definite visual impact that hopefully deterred some people,” said Crews.

Troopers said distracted drivers are as dangerous or maybe even more dangerous than drunk drivers. Those on the road tell me they're noticing it a lot more.

"Playing on the cell phone, putting on makeup, just not paying attention, paying attention to driving at all,” said driver Teresa Dillow.

"Yeah, there is definitely more people than I'd like to be on their cell phones if that's what you're getting at,” said Jon Duncan.

"Not only look out for how you drive but look around and make sure you're looking out for other people as well,” said Stephen Wilkerson.

As Memorial Day draws to a close, plan to see a lot of police activity like this as the summer heats up.

In the last three days, 48 people have been booked into the Chatham County jail on DUI charges. Looking ahead, Operation Rolling Thunder road-checks will continue through the summer.

In South Carolina, Department of Public Safety troopers are also wrapping up a long weekend of increased patrols.

They will not release their numbers until Tuesday, but this time last year, eight people died on state highways.

This time of year is also the beginning of when law enforcement responds to more deadly accidents.That's because of more traffic from both South Carolinians and out-of-state visitors, an increase in drinking and driving, and more time spent on the road by young drivers who are out of school.

"If we didn't have to go and knock on somebody's door and say, 'your loved one isn't coming home because they were killed in a crash.' That would make our jobs so much easier,” said Lance Corporal Matthew Southern with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

You've heard it before, but the biggest things: buckle up, put the phone down and keep your eyes on the road.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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