The return of Thanksgiving dinners and Black Friday sales also signals an increase in people traveling on the road.
In response, law enforcement agencies are gearing up to handle traffic and safety concerns during the holiday travel period.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety has deemed the start of the holiday as 6 p.m. today. It will last until midnight Sunday.
Sgt. Gary Conway with the Floyd County Police Department said they would be working in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Georgia State Patrol with Operation Click It or Ticket.
The holiday period is part of the nationwide mobilization of the program, which concentrates on seat belt and child restraint violations in an effort to save lives.
Floyd County’s plans include keeping a special lookout for impaired drivers and putting up road safety checks throughout the county.
“Officers on the traffic unit will be working more evening shifts to make sure that county roads and highways are as safe as possible, especially on Friday,” Conway said.
The day after Thanksgiving will see people heading out to both return from family gatherings as well as find the next great deal at stores across the country.
Rome Police Department Deputy Chief Lonzo Roberson said they would be patrolling shopping centers throughout the holidays, but they feel like there is sufficient coverage on the city’s roads.
“There is quite a bit of traveling but our normal traffic patrol can handle whatever comes up,” Roberson said.
“Hopefully it won’t be too bad.”
He reminds people who do go out shopping this weekend to lock up their belongings — including pocketbooks and purchases — in the trunk of their car and not leave them in plain sight.
“We also ask that people be patient,” Roberson said. “Everyone knows that there will be a lot of people out this weekend and the main thing is courtesy and safety.”
Georgia State Troopers will patrol during the holiday period in an effort to keep the number of traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities as low as possible.
The agency sent out a release stating that a combination of concentrated patrols and road checks to catch impaired drivers before they are involved in a serious wreck should help.
“We know from past experience that speed, alcohol and failing to use seat belts are the primary contributing factors in fatal crashes,” said Colonel Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “Enjoy the holiday period, but also know that if you are driving under the influence, you will go to jail and your vehicle will be impounded on the spot.”
State patrol officials say traffic is expected to be heavy on Georgia roads throughout the holiday weekend, a contributing factor being the recent dip in prices at the gas pump.
Last year, 13 fatalities and more than 300 injuries were caused by wrecks in Georgia during the Thanksgiving holidays.