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Local law enforcement recently participated in Operation Southern Shield. The speed reduction campaign aims to illustrate the correlation between speeding and traffic accidents.

Operation Southern Shield is back to crack down on speeders with zero tolerance from July 15 to 21.

The third annual speed enforcement campaign is a collaboration between Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies to crack down on speeders.

Officers in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee will target drivers on interstates and other major highways who endanger the safety of others on the road by driving at speeds well above the legally posted limit.

“The mission for us is the same in our neighboring states and that is to save lives on our roads by preventing traffic crashes,” Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole said. “Working together in ‘Operation Southern Shield’ has saved lives and we want everyone who is traveling in the southeast to know that if you are driving over the speed limit, you’re more than likely going to get pulled over and handed a ticket.”

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows speeding is a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the United States over the last two decades. In 2017, speeding killed 9,717 people, which was about 26% of nationwide traffic fatalities that year. Preliminary numbers from the Georgia Department of Transportation show there were 268 speed-related fatalities statewide in 2018, which is an eight% increase from the 248 speeding fatalities the previous year.

State and local officers with 224 law enforcement agencies in Georgia wrote more than 11,000 citations during last year’s Southern Shield and 75% of the citations were issued for speeding. Officers wrote 8,435 speeding citations, 3,070 seat belt citations, 624 distracted driving citations and took 566 suspected DUI drivers off the road in a seven-day period.

Speeding also reduces the effectiveness of seat belts.

Poole said the goal of the campaign is not to write more tickets, but to illustrate the correlation between speed and traffic accidents.

Taylor Denman is a reporter born and raised in Gwinnett County. He came back home to seize the rare opportunity of telling stories in the county he grew up in.