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Authorities stress safety, common sense
Weekend likely busy on Lanier, roads
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Forsyth County News

Authorities are urging caution on the roads and in the water this Memorial Day weekend.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is ramping up enforcement, especially on Lake Lanier, said Sheriff Ted Paxton.

“We wish and hope for everyone to have a very pleasurable Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kickoff of the summer vacation months,” Paxton said. “We will be out here to make sure it is done lawfully and safely.”

Anticipating a “tremendous increase” in lake visitors, the agency’s special operation unit held a joint information meeting with Hall County and the state Department of Natural Resources on Thursday morning, he said.

“We will certainly be out there to assist the public,” Paxton said. “We will also collectively be enforcing any applicable laws.”

The sheriff reminded lake-goers to be safe and use common sense, including not drinking alcohol when operating a boat.

DNR officials are reminding boaters and those on personal watercraft to know the laws.

According to a news release from the agency, some main points to remember include: children younger than 10 must wear a life jacket; use navigation lights at night; and idle speed is required when within 100 feet of another vessel.

DNR also states that for safety reasons, personal watercraft operators should not jump the wake of another boat.

“We know that many people will be on the water with family and friends during the upcoming holiday weekend,” said Col. Eddie Henderson, chief of law enforcement. “In an effort to keep everyone safe, we encourage boat operators to stay sober and alert and know Georgia’s boating laws before heading out on the water.”

There were 109 boating accidents and 11 boating-related fatalities statewide in 2011. Conservation rangers made 168 arrests for boating under the influence.

On the roads, Paxton said deputies and the special operations unit will be out in force.

“Our biggest primary objective … on holiday weekends is certainly traffic accidents, people who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol,” he said. “We will certainly be very aggressively out there looking for those types of violations.”

For those taking longer trips, the state Department of Transportation has announced it’s suspending construction-related lane closures on all interstate and major state system highways from 5 this morning to 10 p.m. Monday.

“We hope this … will allow motorists to get to and from their holiday destinations with less congestion and less aggravation,” said Bayne Smith, district engineer, in a statement.

Some work may continue on lesser-traveled state and local system roads and that incident or emergency maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary on any route, according to a news release.