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Holiday weekend brings traffic, thefts
Officials urge caution on roadways and lake

Fireworks will be in flight as independence is celebrated throughout this holiday weekend, and officials are urging residents to include safety in their plans.

Drinking and driving or boating is the danger the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said it most wants to caution against through Monday, July 4.

“People know they can drink some and not ‘be under the influence,’ but it’s always a good idea not to drive if you’ve had any amount of alcohol,” said Deputy Epifanio Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency. “Plan to stay somewhere if you’re going to be drinking so you’re not putting anyone’s life at risk by getting behind the wheel.”

There were 15 traffic fatalities during the 2015 July Fourth weekend, up from 14 in 2014, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Rodriguez said calling for a cab or an Uber or having a designated driver is also an option to avoid getting a DUI or causing an accident.

“Boating is the same thing as operating a [vehicle],” he said.

Safety tips for being on the water include always wearing a life jacket, especially for children and adults who do not know how to swim.

With more people on the roadway trying to get to their holiday destinations, traffic may cause aggressive driving.

“If you see an aggressive driver, know they can be a danger and call us. If you do call us, make sure you’re not putting yourself in danger by following them,” Rodriguez said.

There will be extra officers on roadways, parks and the lake in the county, he said.

To help ease traffic congestion, the Georgia Department of Transportation is suspending construction-related lane closures on interstates and major state system highways in northeast Georgia from 5 a.m. today to 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.

“We expect heavy holiday traffic across the state as people head to parades, barbecues and fireworks,” said Brent Cook, district engineer at the state department office in Gainesville. “By restricting lane closures, we hope this will enable motorists to travel with fewer delays and less stress.”

Crews may still be working near highways, though, and safety concerns may require some long-term lane closures to remain in place.

Also, incident management or emergency maintenance-related closures could become more necessary at “any time on any route.”

Keeping yourself and other motorists safe while traveling is not the only thing to keep in mind.

Home thieves often anticipate the number of people leaving home for the holiday.

According to State Farm, while December and January see the most thefts due to the holiday season and the increase in packages being delivered, July is the third highest month for home theft claims.