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"ChristmasChristmas being such a happy season, it is hard to associate it with death
or serious personal injuries. But if this year is anything like the most
recent statistics available from the National Highway & Traffic Administration,
between 10 and 25 people will lose their lives in Georgia car accidents
over this upcoming Christmas holiday.

As a
Georgia car accident lawyer, I periodically look through the statistics that the National Highway
and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts out in its
FARS database. (FARS stands for Fatality Analysis Reporting System.) I was (unfortunately)
not surprised to see that three people were killed in car wrecks on New
Year’s Eve, but I was surprised to see that 11 people were killed
in ten fatal collisions over the Christmas holiday period. In 2008, the
number was astronomically higher: 25 people were killed on Georgia roads
during the Christmas holiday period.

With so many people traveling over the holiday, the traffic is heavy and
drivers may not be as attentive as they should be. People driving anywhere
here in Georgia need to be exceptionally careful as they take to the roads
for this holiday period.

And please, do not assume that you are “home free” just because
you do not live in the Atlanta area. Although most of us tend to associate
traffic and big accidents with Atlanta, surprisingly not one of 2009’s
fatal Christmas accidents occurred within the city limits of Atlanta,
or even in Fulton County. Five of the accidents did happen in the Atlanta
metro area, in DeKalb County, Cobb County, Douglas County, Clayton County
and Gwinnett County.

A full half of the car accidents happened outside the metro Atlanta area,
however, and these five car wrecks ranged all over the state. Two people
were killed in a car wreck in Laurens County in middle Georgia. One person
died in a Christmas car crash in Walton County, which is not far from
Atlanta and to its east. A deadly car wreck occurred in Catoosa County
in the far north of Georgia, on the Tennessee line. Two fatal auto accidents
occurred in southern Georgia, both toward the coast. The first of the
two southern Georgia car wrecks happened in Wayne County, which is on
the southeast side of Georgia. The second southern Georgia auto collision
was in McIntosh County, which is in the state’s southern coastal region.

When it tabulates crashes that occur over a “holiday”, the
National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration includes several days
around the “holiday” in its statistics, on the theory that
traffic will be heavy throughout that period as people travel. For that
reason, in the stats that FARS keeps, only five of the Christmas car wrecks
actually occurred on Christmas Day. One occurred on the day after Christmas,
and four more on December 27, 2009.

Keep these statistics in mind over the next few days of the Christmas holiday.
There is an especial note of tragedy when a family loses a loved one at
Christmas. So whether you live in the Atlanta metro area, in middle Georgia,
northern Georgia, southern Georgia, or along the Georgia coast, slow down
and watch out. And Merry Christmas!


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.