(ATLANTA) -- During the holiday season, it's easy to get swept up in the celebrations with friends and family. However, TEAM Georgia and its partners are teaming up this year to remind those driving on Georgia's roadways to not use the holidays as an excuse to drive drunk.
"Recent statistics indicate that alcohol-related crash fatalities in Georgia increased last year by 301 incidents - an 11 percent increase over the previous year," said TEAM Georgia Chairman Ron Fennel. "This statistic is clearly moving in the wrong direction. As we approach this holiday season, we must all double our efforts and make sure all holiday well wishers have a safe and sober ride home."
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TEAM Georgia has worked to save lives and reduce injuries on Georgia's roads and waterways since 1985, and this year is no different. The organization is committed to its mission of encouraging safe and sober driving choices as a means of reducing transportation crashes, injuries and fatalities.
"Our Safe Holiday campaign brings together members of the hospitality industry, restaurants and bars to stand behind a unified message, encouraging safe and responsible holiday celebrations," Fennel said. "That's why we're here at ONE. midtown kitchen today to tell holiday revelers to have fun, but be responsible and get home safely."
As TEAM Georgia and its partners kick off the holiday season, highway safety officials gathered in Midtown for a press conference that included messages from TEAM Georgia, the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, Georgia State Patrol, MADD Georgia and inspiring words from the victim of a tragic DUI crash.
"We want holiday and New Year's revelers to go out and enjoy their time with friends and loved ones," said GOHS Director Harris Blackwood. "But at the same time, we want those same people to get home safely. Usher in the new year by making good choices. Before you toast, designate a sober driver."
During last year's holiday season (Nov. 20 - Dec. 31), there were 1,119 alcohol-related traffic crashes in Georgia. That's 122 more than in 2011 and 283 more than in 2010. Twenty people lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes over the same period in 2012.
"It's so tragic to see so many people lose their lives over something that has a simple solution," Blackwood said. "If you're celebrating, make plans to get home safely before you leave the house."
At the event, drivers were reminded to use GOHS's Drive Sober, Georgia app, which connects those in need of a ride home with inexpensive or free options to get home safely. The app, available for download on both Apple and Android smartphones, provides listings of cab companies, tow companies and other organizations committed to keeping drunk drivers off the road.