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Georgia State Patrol gives tips on how to drive safe this Memorial Day holiday

After the death of 57-year-old Joseph Middleton who crashed on his motorcycle after hitting a tarp in the roadway, folks are concerned about road safety this weekend

MACON, Ga. — Folks across Georgia are getting ready for the Memorial Day holiday weekend with plenty of people hitting the road right now.

AAA expects more than 37 million drivers on the road nationwide and more than 1 million in Georgia. They say Thursday and Friday between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are the busiest times to leave.

However, between distracted drivers and shoddy roads, some folks get concerned about safety during a busy holiday weekend.

Some folks say the roads are just plain dangerous.

“They definitely need to slow down,” says Judy Howard. 

Howard says she drives the I-16 and I-75 split every day to work. However, she says the death of Joseph Middleton, the man who died in a motorcycle crash on the same route, was news to her. 

“It's sad, but it doesn't surprise me, though,” she says. 

Howard says it's because the interchange isn't safe.

“I call it a bottleneck. It’s where you go from two lanes only to one. It causes backup with the traffic and the lanes are really small,” she explains. 

On top of that, she says construction happening on the interstate causes debris to get into the roadways.

"I've had, chunks of concrete up under my vehicle. I'd be scared to look under my vehicle,” Howard says. 

Andrew Wrice agrees that debris makes the interchange dangerous. 

“You have to be very careful on the I-16 and I-75 split,” he says. “I have to always dodge different things on the road." 

Wrice says his heart goes out to Middleton and his family. 

“I pray that the roads become more safe so people can drive and no one loses their life,” Wrice says.

Georgia State Patrol's Corporal Jason Stone says Middleton's death was unusual, but crashes on a major converging highway aren't.

"It's definitely a high probability for wrecks in that area. It causes confusion and traffic congestion, and just a little bit of people slowing down can cause a major disruption in traffic."

It's only about to get busier. 

Stone says they’re fully staffed in anticipation for this weekend. The Georgia State Patrol says they're keeping their eyes on  I-16, I-75, and I-475; these roads will be the busiest in Central Georgia. 

Stone says the Memorial weekend is one of the most hectic. 

“404 crashes last year with 10 fatalities during Memorial Day,” Stone says. 

Those were crash numbers for 2022 across the three-day holiday weekend in Central Georgia. 

Stone has tips on how to stay safe this holiday. 

“Definitely follow the posted speed limit, stay off your phone. Distracted driving is a high wreck contributing factor. Don’t follow close to the driver in front of you,” he says.

With 330 DUI arrests last year in Central Georgia during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, don't drink and drive. 

“Have a safe driver and a plan on making your way home,” Stone explains. 

Stone says if you’re hauling something, make sure to secure it before leaving your destination. He says if you see debris on the roadways, you can dial 911 or call * (star) GSP to report it right away. 

They also say there were 13 traffic fatalities statewide last Memorial Day weekend.

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