COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Georgia State Patrol, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources delivered their annual “Belts & Jackets” Safety message at Lake Oliver in Columbus Thursday morning.

Georgia State Patrol and Governor’s Office of Highway Safety asks everyone to wear their seat belt and to life jacket when boating, swimming, or riding personal watercraft. 

These agencies are also reminding the public to ensure children under eight are riding in an approved child passenger safety seat that meets the manufacturer’s recommendations based on weight and height.

Preliminary crash data shows the number of people who have been killed in Georgia traffic crashes during the Memorial Day Weekend has doubled over a five-year period. In 2018, there were seven traffic deaths over the course of Memorial Day Weekend — come 2022, that number increased to 15.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 56 percent of the people killed in Georgia traffic crashes in 2021 were not wearing seat belts. Georgia Department of Natural Resources Game Wardens investigated 23 boating fatalities and responded to 57 drownings in 2022.

Game Wardens also made 287 arrests for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) last year, which is a 55 percent increase from the 185 BUI arrests made in 2018.  The Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit in Georgia for motor vehicle drivers and boat and personal watercraft operators is .08.   

Whether traveling on the road or the water, officials ask the public ensures the trip or outing starts with the click of a seat belt or life jacket. 

“Well, it’s very important because specifically during Memorial Day weekend, it’s one of the times of the year where people are affected most by not being consulted. So it’s literally if they don’t buckle up, it’s a life altering event. So by not doing such and they are involved in crash, they’re having a lot more propensity to be injured or in all circumstances be it resulted in a fatality,” said Deputy Regional Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Region Alex Cabral.

Georgia is participating in the national “Click It or Ticket” seat belt awareness campaign that ends June 4.