Agencies prepare for holiday
by Mark Andrews
Aug 30, 2013 | 1508 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Law enforcement and fire services will be on alert this Labor Day weekend as more families are on the road and firing up their grills. Bartow County Fire Marshall Brian Cox warns residents not only of taking common-sense safety measures to grilling, smoking and frying over the holiday and football-kickoff weekend, but also reminds of the laws that may be overlooked regarding outdoor cooking and the legal ramifications of violating these laws.

“If you live in anything other than a single-family dwelling ... it is against Georgia Law to have, operate or maintain a grill on any balcony above ground level or within 10 feet of the structure,” Cox said, adding the law not only applies to apartments, but owned townhomes as well. “If anybody is using one of these grills, even one of the small, electric grills that you can buy ... that person who was grilling on that patio or hallway or breezeway can be held responsible for the cost and the damages of [a] fire. If anybody is hurt or any firefighters are killed, they will be charged with a crime because they broke state law in doing this.”

In an effort to combat drinking and driving, the Georgia State Patrol will be joining with local agencies across the state for Operation Zero Tolerance.

“A driver that operates a vehicle impaired puts all others on the road in danger. Georgia State Troopers take saving lives seriously and they do not hesitate to arrest those that choose to drive impaired,” Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said in a press release. “During this period, troopers are working with local officers and deputies in their areas for concentrated patrols and roadchecks.”

The GSP says impaired driving is a leading contributing factor in a majority of fatal traffic crashes that result in investigations by troopers.

“Driving under the influence is unacceptable. If consuming alcohol is in your plans, designate a sober driver before you leave home. If you don’t have a designated driver, call a taxi, a friend, or family member to help you get home safely,” McDonough said. “If you suspect that someone is driving impaired, do not hesitate to notify local law enforcement and do not let others get behind the wheel impaired either.”

He continued, “If you see someone who is about to drive impaired try to help them make other arrangements to get home.”

This is the second of three Operation Zero Tolerance enforcement periods of the year. Georgia’s campaign is a part of the national “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” program. Labor Day also marks the end of the 100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T — Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic — campaign, an effort by Georgia law enforcement agencies to combat aggressive and impaired drivers.

For those looking to hit the water, new laws are in effect regarding boating under the influence. Senate Bill 136, which came into effect May 15, brought BUI substances and limits into alignment with those for driving under the influence, lowering the BUI blood alcohol level to .08. The law also adds “toxic vapors” — including inhalants, such as spray paint, glue and fuel — to the substances contributing to BUI.

The Better Business Bureau also is providing tips to help make the weekend safer for those on the road:

• Make sure you’re well rested before traveling. Tired drivers are not only a hazard to themselves and those in their vehicle, but by falling asleep or being less alert, mistakes can be made in judgment when driving.

• Make sure everyone is properly buckled up. This applies to every person in the car, including back seat and rear seats in mini vans. Seat belts prevent serious injuries and deaths. Make sure children are in age appropriate safety seats, and that they are properly secured.

• Don’t tailgate and remember the two-second rule when following other vehicles. Remember to keep a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you. Also be aware of vehicles on all sides of your car. Don’t rely on mirrors when changing lanes. Make sure to turn around and check visually to make sure no cars are in your blind spot.

• Obey all traffic signals and speed limits. This is especially true on holiday weekends. Wherever you’re going, you want to make sure you get there safe. Also, be aware that law enforcement will be out to ensure that everyone is obeying all speed limits and laws.

• Don’t drink and drive.

• Don’t text and drive. Distracted driving is becoming one of the major causes of accidents. When driving, pull over if you have to make a call, send a text or do anything that would take your full concentration off of your driving.

• Pay heed to emergency signals and traffic. When you see an emergency vehicle’s lights flashing, move and slow down. If you want to help, it would be best to call 911 and report the accident.

• Establish and enforce a driver’s distraction-free zone, especially in cars equipped with electronic devices including cellphones, video games and global positioning systems

• Allow plenty of travel time to avoid frustration and for those extra stops every traveler has to make.

• Drive defensively and exercise caution, especially during inclement weather.

• Keep BBB with you on the road. BBB has a free app for iPhones on iTunes. Look for bbbsearch to receive this free service. For those who do not want to download this app, just go to bbb.org.

Before you go:

• Create a car safety kit. Holiday driving often includes the threat of dangerous weather. Bad weather can lead to accidents, car troubles, long delays and road closures. You can prepare for bad weather by creating your own safety kit. Basics for the kit include a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, family medicine and emergency telephone numbers.

• Take the car in for a checkup. Breaking down on the side of the road can definitely put a damper on the holiday spirit. If your car is due for a checkup, take it in before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car’s fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure. Check the condition of your tires and make sure they are properly inflated.

• Know the weather. Check local websites for traveling information for states you will be traveling through and your destination. You may need extra time for bad weather.

Drunk driving and a safe way home:

Since its inception in 1998, Tow to Go has safely removed more than 20,000 intoxicated drivers from the roads. The service is designed to be used as a last resort. It is offered based on availability of AAA Service Technicians and tow trucks during times of high call volume.

• Confidential local ride within a 10-mile radius to a safe location

• Service is provided in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee

• Free and available to both AAA members and non-members

• The AAA tow truck takes the vehicle and the driver home