‘Operation Southern Shield’ is cracking down on speeding drivers to save lives

A multi-state effort named Operation Southern Shield, a campaign that started back in 2017, is renewing efforts to find and ticket speeding drivers from Monday, July 19 to Saturday, July 24.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 38,680 Americans lost their lives on our roads nationally in 2020.

It’s a 7.2% spike from 36,096 deaths in 2019.

Speed is a major contributor.

In fact, NHTSA also says speeding-related crashes were up 11% from 2019 to 2020.

“Speed does kill, and it’s a choice, you do not have to choose to speed, you can drive the speed limit,” said Lieutenant Maurice Raines with Georgia State Patrol.

“I see a lot of people speeding,” said driver Tony Sakala. “They definitely exceed the limit, more than 10 miles an hour.”

Sakala still has a fresh dent on his van from a crash he experienced a few weeks ago. He says a motorcyclist cut him off.

“He was speeding,” Sakala recalled. “As a matter of fact, it was a 25 mile an hour limit and he was going 50-something, and he was proud about it.”

To help pump the brakes on these troubling statistics, NHTSA is teaming up with five southern states - Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee - to launch Operation Southern Shield.

From Monday, July 19, though Saturday, July 24, you will see stepped up enforcement along roads and highways as officers find and ticket drivers going past the speed limit.

“Which message would you rather deliver? That you get a minimal fine, and curb your driving behavior, or get that knock on the door that your son or daughter, mother or father, loved one, has been killed in tragic crash?” asked Colonel Gene Spaulding with Florida Highway Patrol, as he pointed out that ticketing drivers is not something law enforcement enjoys.

The one simple step every driver can follow: Give yourself enough time to get to where you need to go.

“I would rather arrive late and alive, than not arrive at all,” Lt. Raines said.

“And if you decide to put the hammer down, we’re gonna put the pen to the paper,” he added.

“I hope it does help,” Sakala said. “I hope it works out. Hopefully it’s gonna save a lot of lives.”