Editorial: Save lives by driving safely this summer and all year long

The Georgia Department of Transportation is informing the public of an "active summer construction season," with Memorial Day (May 31) unofficially marking the start of summer.

That means two things we need to be aware of: possible delays because of the work zones, and the danger that work crews face.

As for the delays, we encourage you to plan ahead to minimize or even avoid delays in your travels, but also stress the importance of remaining cool and calm in the midst of those delays. We have read about too many cases of "road rage" that have resulted in tragedy, even deaths, because some travelers commit crimes because of frustration or the actions of another driver. Be courteous to your fellow drivers, and understanding if things slow down more than you anticipated. Getting there safe is the most important thing.

Focusing on safety is also the key for the members of the work crews in the construction zones. Again, we have read about the horror stories of vehicles slamming into crew members, resulting in injuries and deaths. These are all the more tragic because they are avoidable if drivers take their time, focus on the road and signage as they enter the work zones, and put safety first. The lives of the members of the work crews are precious -- they have loved ones waiting for them to safely come home -- and their safety must be paramount.

"Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives."

That is the focus of the Georgia Department of Transportation and they are words to live by.

"As Georgia and the rest of the world returns to a new normal, traffic will likely increase," said Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell R. McMurry. "Drivers need to be prepared and pay attention to their surroundings."

Noting "distraction is a leading cause of many crashes," "especially in work zones," the department offers these tips:

• "Buckle up, put the phone down and drive alert with no distractions."

• "Use extra caution in work zones: pay attention, slow down and watch for workers."

• "Know before you go. Expect delays, leave early, and schedule enough time to drive safely."

The department recommends calling 511 or visiting www.511ga.org for "real-time" traffic information, and that motorists follow the department on Twitter for updates. Georgia 511 is a free phone service that provides "traffic conditions, incidents, lane closures and delays. Callers can transfer to operators to request assistance or report incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In metro Atlanta, you can also request HERO assistance by calling 511."

So do your homework, maintain the proper mindset and focus while driving, and arrive alive.

As the Georgia Department of Transportation says, "Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives."

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