Operation Southern Shield begins today, July 17th, in a weeklong speed prevention and enforcement initiative on interstates, major highways and local roads in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. The campaign aims to reduce summertime wrecks and traffic deaths by reducing drivers who are speeding, impaired, distracted or not wearing seat belts. Harris Blackwood, of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia, said, “They’re not trying to write tickets…they’re trying to get you to slow down.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is funding the extra patrols. Operation Southern Shield is being held in July between other major highway safety campaigns to coincide with the larger-than-normal numbers of drivers on roads because of summer travel.
Statistics showed an increase of 7 percent of wrecks in 2015 over 2014, killing about 35,000 people in the United States. Speeding was a factor in 27 percent of the fatal crashes in the U.S. Almost half of the fatal speeding-related crashes in the nation happened on rural non-interstate roads. In Georgia, the number of speeding-related fatalities has almost doubled from 2012-2015; 25 percent increase from 2014 to 2015. Preliminary numbers from the Georgia Department of Transportation show 1,561 people killed in traffic crashes in 2016. The objective of Operation Southern Shield is to make the public aware, encouraging them to slow down and drive safely, according to Col. Mark McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. Mr. Blackwood adds, “By publicizing this operation now, we want drivers across the Southeast to choose on their own to obey the speed limit.” The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s 16 regional traffic enforcement networks will be conducting speed enforcement patrols in their local communities For more information, visit www.gahighwaysafety.org or www.headsUPgeorgia.com
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