The Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies are ready to put the brakes on speeding during the third annual Operation Southern Shield speed enforcement campaign.

The campaign will be Monday through July 21 in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. Law enforcement officers in these staets will join forces on interstates and other major highways to target drivers 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,” said Allen Poole, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “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.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding has been a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the U.S. 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 8% 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.

“Troopers across the state are preparing to heavily enforce the laws regarding speeding and aggressive driving during Operation Southern Shield,” said Col. Mark W. McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “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.”

“The goal of Southern Shield is to not write a lot of tickets but to show drivers how speeding drastically increases their chances of being in a crash,” Poole said. “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.”

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

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