Georgia has reached a tragic milestone.
The number of traffic fatalities in the state has increased for the first time in nine years, reversing a downward slide that began in 2006.
The total number of people killed on state roads as of Dec. 23 was 1,339 -- a 17 percent increase over last year.
Last year's total was 1,170.
Here's how the numbers break down.
- 185 occurred on interstates
- 671 occurred on state routes
- 483 occurred on local routes
- Six were collisions between a car and train
- 190 were pedestrians
- 138 were motorcyclists
- 21 were bicyclists
So why the uptick in total fatalities? State Department of Transportation officials say they've seen an increase in single-vehicle crashes caused when drivers run off the road. They believe many of these wrecks can be traced back to irresponsible behavior, be it distracted driving, failing to wear a seat belt, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving while sleepy.
GDOT officials anticipated this grim record earlier this year and began efforts this spring to raise awareness about it with the Drive Alert. Arrive Alive. Campaign. The campaign asks drivers to take a pledge to buckle up, stay off the phone and stay alert.