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Departments adopt open roads policy

A policy adopted by state agencies more than two years ago is finally making its way to city and county traffic enforcement agencies in Georgia. Contacted about their compliance with the Georgia Open Roads policy, all Fayette County law enforcement agencies said the policy that calls for quickly clearing roadways for traffic after accidents is already part of their operational procedure.

The Open Roads policy was adopted by the Ga. Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) and the Ga. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) in June 2011. Fayette County Clerk Floyd Jones in checking with the Atlanta Regional Commission was told that while the policy was effective more than two years ago it had been rolled out through state agencies and is now making its way to the counties.

The policy states that traffic incidents will be cleared from roadways in an urgent manner with a goal of clearing the roadway sufficient for travel within 90 minutes.

Commenting on the policy, Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb said he supports the policy, adding that “We’ve always operated that way. Before releasing a scene you must make sure that safe travel can be resumed. The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office has always given safety the highest priority. We will continue to operate this way in our community’s best interest and resolve these incidents with respect, service and efficiency for all.”

Tyrone Police Chief Brandon Perkins said his department also supports the policy.

“(The goal of the policy) is basic law enforcement,” Perkins said. “This is standard practice that we’ve been using and it’s always a goal.”

Peachtree City Police Chief H.C. “Skip” Clark said his department also supports the policy.

“This has always been our goal,” Clark said, explaining that issues that can sometimes arise on roadways must be addressed. “When we close a road we notify DOT.”

Clark noted an occasion when Ga. Highway 74 was closed significantly longer than the 90-minute goal and resulted in lengthy traffic back-ups. A three-vehicle accident at Hwy. 74 and Aberdeen Parkway in February 2011 claimed the life of an East Point man. In multiple-vehicle incidents such as the one that claimed the life of 37-year-old Thomas McGee, additional time was required to attend to the injured and to address issues such as the securing of evidence relating to a fatality, Clark said.

Fayetteville Police Chief Scott Pitts said his department also supports the policy. Pitts said that on occasions other than extrications or hazmat spills, Fayetteville officers open the roadways for traffic fairly quickly and are well within the 90-minute guidelines specified in the policy.

All agencies noted that traffic could be impeded for longer than 90 minutes in the case of a traffic fatality or when a motorist has to be cut out of a vehicle.

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