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Operation Southern Shield kicks off in five southeastern states

ATLANTA - Law enforcement officers in Georgia are ready to put the hammer down on drivers who are hammering down on their gas pedal during the second annual "Operation Southern Shield" speed enforcement operation.

After last year's highly successful operation that drew national attention, Georgia will join neighboring states in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina in pulling over drivers who are breaking the law by traveling above the legal speed limit on interstates, major highways and local roads from Monday, July 16 through Sunday, July 22.

“Our troopers are dedicated to participating in collaborative enforcement efforts like Operation Southern Shield, that encourages motorists to drive safely and slow down,” said Colonel Mark W. 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.”

According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding killed more than 10,000 people in the United States 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 found that speed was a factor in 31 percent of fatal crashes in the U.S. from 2005-2014.

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.

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

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

"If you are pulled over next week, don't ask for a warning because this is it," Harris Blackwood, Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety said. "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."

While state and local law enforcement agencies will be handling their own speed enforcement operations across the five southeastern states, Georgia will once again join their law enforcement partners in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina for joint operations during the week.

For more information about the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, follow us on Facebook at Georgia GOHS, and on Twitter and Instagram at gohsgeorgia.

Georgia and Tennessee kicked off Operation Southern Shield Monday morning at the Georgia Visitor Information Center with Colonel Mark McDonough of the Georgia Department of Public Safety and Colonel Dereck Stewart of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Submitted 7.16.18
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