Whether on the roads or in the water, authorities are reminding Forsyth County residents to use cause this Labor Day weekend.
The 78-hour holiday travel period, which traditionally marks the end of summer, begins at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at midnight Monday.
Those planning journeys along state roads may be pleased to know that the Georgia Department of Transportation will suspend construction-related lane closures from 5 a.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Capt. Frank Huggins said deputies will be looking for dangerous drivers, especially those who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“Our primary objective during this important holiday period is to make sure that our roads are safe for anyone traveling on them, whether it is local residents or someone just passing through,” Huggins said.
“Across the nation, someone dies every 14 minutes in a traffic accident. The majority of those crashes involve drivers who have been drinking alcohol.”
The sheriff’s office will conduct traffic checkpoints countywide throughout the weekend.
Huggins encouraged those who plan to celebrate with a few alcoholic beverages to take a taxi or use a designated driver if they need a ride.
According to information from the state Department of Public Safety, 1,197 crashes were reported that resulted in 867 injuries and 15 deaths on Georgia roads during Labor Day weekend 2009.
None of the fatal wrecks were alcohol-related, though one involved a drug-impaired driver.
The Georgia State Patrol will work alongside local authorities to keep roads safe.
In addition, the sheriff’s marine and mounted patrols will be out at Lake Lanier’s parks and 200 miles of local shoreline to ensure a safe holiday weekend.
Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said nice weather predicted for the holiday and comfortable water temperatures will likely contribute to a busy weekend on the lake.
“We do expect heavy use at the parks and beaches of Lake Lanier so we encourage everyone to wear life preservers, don’t go in the water if you can’t swim and have a buddy with you during swimming and fishing activities or anything on the water,” Shivers said.
Authorities were not able to recover the body of a 27-year-old Lawrenceville man who drowned in the lake three months ago.
Shivers said that is the lone drowning reported on the Forsyth County side of the lake this year. Two people have drowned on the Hall County side.
According to state Department of Natural Resources figures, there have been 110 boating accidents, 12 boating incident-related fatalities and 42 drownings on Georgia waters this year.
DNR rangers have issued 122 citations for boating under the influence.
Shivers suggested that those planning a cookout this weekend follow the manufacturer guidelines recommended for their outdoor grills.
“Never leave a grill unattended,” Shivers said. “Try to remove a grill from a deck to the yard or concrete or gravel surface because the grease can drip and create fires on a wooden deck, especially after you’ve turned it off and gone inside.”
He also reminded the public that the state’s outdoor burn ban doesn’t lift until October.