Law enforcement officers cracking down on speeding during multi-state campaign

Georgia Department of Public Safety Comissioner Mark W. McDonough tells drivers to buckle up, slow down, put the cellphones down and drive sober or face a ticket during Operation Southern Shield. (File Photo: Jon Gosa)

Lead-footers beware: beginning next week, Georgia law enforcement is cracking down on speeders throughout the state.

On Monday, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina’s Operation Southern Shield begins, a public safety campaign aimed at targeting drivers who are speeding on interstates, major highways and local roads.

“Our troopers are dedicated to participating in collaborative enforcement efforts like Operation Southern Shield that encourage motorists to drive safely and slow down,” said Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “Our main focus this week is reducing crashes and providing a safer transportation experience for motorists traveling in our state.”

Last year was the first annual collaboration, and the operation drew national attention — and results.

According to preliminary numbers from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the number of traffic deaths reported in the state during last year’s Southern Shield was 35 percent lower than the other three weeks of July.

Data shows that there were 25 traffic deaths reported in Georgia during Operation Southern Shield, which ran from July 17-23, compared to 34 during July 3-9, 41 during July 10-16 and 39 during July 24-30.

Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement officers also issued 12,469 speeding citations over the seven-day period and took 552 suspected DUI drivers to jail. They also made 472 felony arrests.

“If you are pulled over next week, don’t ask for a warning because this is it,” said Harris Blackwood, director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “Many of the citations issued last year were for speeds that were well over the legal posted limit. The speed limit on every road in this state is set to protect everyone who is traveling on them.”

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that speeding killed more than 10,000 people in the U.S. in 2016 and was a factor in 27 percent of fatal crashes in the nation.

A recent study from the United States Department of Transportation, too, found that speed was a factor in 31 percent of fatal crashes in the U.S. from 2005-2014.

Officials always urge safety on the roads, but especially warn motorists to slow down.

For more information about the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety or the collaboration, follow the office on Facebook at Georgia GOHS or on Twitter and Instagram at gohsgeorgia.

Crime Reporter

Isabel is a crime and health reporter for the Gwinnett Daily Post. She graduated from Emory University in 2016 with a B.A. in international studies. She is originally from the Boston area.

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