Georgia state officials are still trying to figure out why this past New
Year’s Eve period had so many more car accidents than last year’s.
You don’t have to be like me — a lawyer handling car accident
lawsuits — to know that car wrecks spike over holiday weekends.
This year’s New Year’s Eve holiday was no exception to the
general rule, and far too many people were injured or died in car crashes
on Georgia roads. But the number of accidents that occurred this year
was especially high.
Georgia Department of Public Safety set the holiday period “start time” at 6 p.m. on Friday, and
ended the holiday period at midnight on Tuesday. In that 102-hour period,
the Georgia State Patrol investigated an astonishing 585 traffic crashes.
Although not all of the crashes involved injuries and deaths, all too
many did. The State Patrol reported that 266 people were injured in car
accidents on Georgia roads during the 2012-2013 New Year’s Eve holiday
period, and three people were killed as a result of these crashes. State
police departments reported another three car wrecks that wound up being
fatal for drivers, passengers or pedestrians. In all, state troopers arrested
321 people for drunk driving, although of course not all of the people
charged were involved in car wrecks.
During the 2011-2012 New Year’s Eve holiday, Georgia state troopers
investigated “only” 296 crashes. The state saw fewer injuries
than it would in 2012-2013 – 172, but more of the wrecks were fatal.
According to numbers released by the Georgia Department of Public Safety,
172 people were injured, and the Georgia State Patrol investigated 7 fatal
crashes, and local police departments investigated another 6. According
to the state, Georgia troopers arrested 262 people for DUI. Again, not
all of the people charged with driving under the influence were involved
in the wrecks that state troopers investigated.
Overall, the number of car wrecks in the 2012-2013 New Year’s holiday
period far outnumbered the 2011-2012 car accidents. Why?
One reason for the difference is that, because of where New Year’s
fell during the week, the State Patrol designated the 2011-2012 New Year’s
holiday period as being only 72 hours long, whereas it considered the
period for the 2012-2013 holiday time to be 102 hours long. Even so, however,
the numbers show that while state troopers worked 4.11 accidents an hour
during the New Year’s Eve period stretching from 2011-2012, the
state troopers worked 5.74 accidents per hour during the 2012-2013 holiday.
So while the number of hours in the holiday period is a partial explanation
for the difference in the number of wrecks, clearly the length of time
that Georgia officials included in the holiday period cannot account for
the entire difference.
The good news is that – both percentage-wise, and also in terms of
the raw numbers — fewer of the car wrecks were fatal during this
2012-2013 New Year’s weekend. And the additional good news is that
we here in Georgia are fortunate enough to have dedicated state troopers
who worked through the holiday period in order to investigate nearly 600
accidents in just a four-day period.