Georgia taking part in third annual 'Operation Southern Shield' speed enforcement campaign

The Georgia State Patrol is taking part in the third annual “Operation Southern Shield” speed enforcement campaign being enforced in five Southeastern states.

ATLANTA — The Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies say they are ready to put the brakes on speeding during the third annual “Operation Southern Shield” speed enforcement campaign that will take place in five southeastern states beginning Monday and running through July 21.

Law enforcement officers in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee are joining forces on interstates and other major highways to target speeders.

“The mission for us is the same in our neighboring states, and that is to save lives on our roads by preventing traffic crashes,” 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.

“The goal of Southern Shield is not to write a lot of tickets but to show drivers how speeding drastically increases their chances of being in a crash. We are warning drivers now so those who do not want to see blue lights in the rearview mirror will follow the speed limit, wear their seat belt, and drive alert and sober.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said speeding has been 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 percent 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 8 percent increase from the 248 speeding fatalities the previous year.

State and local law enforcement officials said officers with 224 agencies in Georgia wrote more than 11,000 citations during last year’s campaign, and 75 percent 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.

“Troopers across the state are preparing to heavily enforce the laws regarding speeding and aggressive driving during Operation Southern Shield,” Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said. “We always enjoy partnering with other law enforcement agencies in an effort to make traveling on our roadways safer. This partnership will focus on reducing speeds, which will ultimately reduce the number of traffic crashes.”

Officials said that, besides increasing the risk of being killed or seriously injured in a crash, speeding also reduces the effectiveness of seat belts and other safety equipment in a vehicle. This can lead to more severe injuries and increases the stopping distance after the driver perceives a danger.

Georgia and Tennessee will hold a joint “Operation Southern Shield” kickoff event on Monday at the Tennessee Welcome Center at Interstate 75 in East Ridge, Tenn. There will also be joint enforcement activities throughout the week with highway safety partners in Alabama, Florida and South Carolina.

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