Memorial Day is supposed to be about remembering the sacrifices of people who fought and too often died for a cause in defending America’s freedom. Earlier in May, my wife and I visited the Normandy American Cemetery, and placed flags on the graves of Georgia soldiers there. It was a stark reminder of the valor of the men of the “Greatest Generation” who sacrificed everything for our freedom.

On Memorial Day weekend, we traveled to the traditional Decoration Day at a country cemetery in Alabama where my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are buried. While my wife and I cleaned headstones and placed flowers, I talked with a local volunteer who was cleaning the military markers of veterans and placing flags on their graves. Those included the graves of my father and my uncle, veterans of World War II.Tragically, every Memorial Day weekend, we see far too many senseless deaths due to traffic and water accidents rather than defense of freedom. As Memorial Day coincides with the beginning of summer, the end of the school year and high school graduations, we see too many promising young lives cut short.

This year, nearly three times as many people died on Georgia roads on Memorial Day weekend compared to last year. The Georgia State Patrol reports 17 traffic fatalities from 6 p.m. Friday until midnight Monday which is up from six in 2013.

We could go through the tragic roll call of all the crashes and deaths reported in the media. I will resist that temptation. So many of the deaths are so senseless that, as a father, I do not want to dwell on those details today. I just thank God that my son, going and coming to Panama City, did not become one of the statistics.

Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said state troopers were focusing on road checks, high visibility patrols, and concentrated patrols across the state to help with holiday travels.

As always, the Georgia State Patrol encourages everyone traveling to use their seat belt and take the time to ensure children are properly restrained during All American Buckle-Up Week which fell on Memorial Day weekend.

“Through Memorial Day, state highway patrols and state police agencies from across the united States and Canada are joining together to educate the public on the importance of wearing seatbelts while traveling in motor vehicles. This is also an opportunity for everyone who will be traveling to make an extra effort to make sure seat belts are used by everyone in the vehicle,” McDonough noted.

All American Buckle-Up Week is an educational program of Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort). The Memorial Day holiday weekend is also an Operation CARE holiday period. CARE is sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for state law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada. The goal of the campaign is to reduce traffic deaths through high visibility enforcement and education. This year is the program’s 37th anniversary.

During the 2013 Memorial Day weeken

The highest number of traffic death on Georgia roads during the Memorial Day holiday weekend occurred in 2005 when 32 people were killed in traffic crashed. The lowest number was recorded in 2010 when five people were killed.d, state troopers investigated 650 crashes that resulted in 366 injuries and six fatalities. In addition to the traffic crash investigations last year, troopers arrested 310 people for driving under the influence while issuing 9,288 citations and 15,328 warnings.


Ken Shigley is past president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12), double board certified in Civil Trial Advocacy and Civil Pretrial Advocacy by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification, and lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice.  His Atlanta-based civil trial practice is focused on representation of plaintiffs in cases of castastrophic personal injury and wrongful death.


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Photo of Ken Shigley Ken Shigley

Ken Shigley, senior counsel at Johnson & Ward, is a former president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12). He was the first Georgia lawyer to earn three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (Civil Trial Advocacy, Civil Pretrial Advocacy…

Ken Shigley, senior counsel at Johnson & Ward, is a former president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12). He was the first Georgia lawyer to earn three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (Civil Trial Advocacy, Civil Pretrial Advocacy, and Truck Accident Law). In 2019, he received the Traditions of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement. Mr. Shigley was the lead author of eleven editions of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice (Thomson Reuters, 2010-21). He graduated from Furman University and Emory University Law School, and completed certification courses in trial practice, negotiation and mediation at Harvard Law School.