'Operation Southern Shield' aims to slow drivers down
If you drive with a lead foot, you may want to ease off. This week, you can expect more patrols making sure drivers are safe behind the wheel.
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee are once again working together to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities by conducting the second 'Operation Southern Shield' speed enforcement crackdown.
"One of the major contributing factors that causes excessive damage, injuries and fatalities is the speed we're all traveling, and every one of us sees it on the roadway," Colonel Mark McDonough, Georgia State Patrol said.
Keeping drivers safe by slowing down speeders is what the Georgia State Patrol and the Tennessee Highway Patrol will be looking out for this week. However, they know their job isn't just about enforcement. It's about education too.
"There's no way we can enforce our way out of this issue, we have to educate the public as much as possible because we need them as a stakeholder in this, we do not want to write citations," Colonel Dereck Stewart, Tennessee Highway Patrol said.
'Operation Southern Shield' aims to reduce the number of drivers who are speeding, impaired, distracted or not wearing seat belts with hopes of making sure drivers arrive alive.
"Each one of those traffic fatalities is someone's family, someone's loved one that won't be coming home and we want to do all we can to try and minimize that hurt, that pain as much as we can," Stewart said.
Speeding is the leading cause of deadly crashes in the United States. 10,000 people were killed in 2016.
"Our whole goal is to drive fatalities down of all the problems that we have in society it is senseless to lose folks in automobile accidents and our passion is to reduce that as best we can," McDonough explained.
Officials say 'Operation Southern Shield' is working. During last year's program, officers in Georgia wrote more than 1,200 citations and saw traffic deaths in the state drop by 35 percent the week before and after the program.
Law enforcement officers in Tennessee issued more than 9,000 citations. Over 5,000 of those citations were for speeding. Officers also made more than 200 DUI arrests and 280 felony arrests during the seven-day operation.
The first 'Southern Shield Operation' earned national attention as state and local law enforcement officers were stopping drivers who were traveling well over the posted speed limit on interstates, state highways and local roads.
The operation is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They hope to continue the program next year.